Your baby is about to go through an amazing growth spurt. In their first year, babies triple their birth weight. To grow that much, they need a lot of nutrients more than at any other time in their life.
Experts say breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies during the first 6 months, but formula can be a good alternative.
Some of the nutrients babies need to grow and stay healthy include:
Calcium - Helps build strong bones and teeth.
Fat - Creates energy, helps the brain develop, keeps skin and hair healthy, and protects against infections.
Folate - Helps cells divide.
Iron - Builds blood cells, and helps the brain develop. Breast-fed babies should receive iron supplements.
Zinc - Helps the cells grow and repair themselves
Most infant formulas today are made from cow's milk. They are fortified to make them as close to breast milk as possible, and to give babies all the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy.
Most cow's milk formulas contain:
Carbohydrates, in the form of the milk sugar "lactose"
Minerals, such as calcium and zinc
Vitamins, including A, C, D, E, and the B vitamins
Babies who were born early (before 37 weeks) or at a low birth weight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces) need special nutrition to help them catch up on growth. Breast-fed babies may get a fortifier added to the milk, which contains:Extra calories,Extra fat, Protein, Vitamins, Minerals
Babies who can't breast-feed will need a special formula made for preterm babies. These formulas are higher in calories. They also contain extra protein, vitamins, and minerals.
What to Avoid
One thing you don't want to give your baby during the first 12 months is whole cow's milk. It doesn't have enough iron, vitamin E, and essential fatty acids for your baby. Also, it contains too much protein, sodium, and potassium for your child's body to absorb and can cause harm. Wait to introduce cow's milk until your baby is 1 year old.
You also don't want to give your baby soy milk or homemade formula. These substitutes may not have the balance of nutrition baby needs right now.