The most important years of a child’s life for growth and development are from birth until they’re three years old. During this time, it’s essential they get all of the vital nutrients they need. However, because of babies’ differing eating habits, that’s not always possible. There are several reasons why your baby may be deficient in a particular nutrient.
You might follow a specific diet now or during pregnancy; formula and breast milk contain different nutritional values depending on your diet and the type of formula you buy; and, children born prematurely or under a certain weight don’t often have a chance to absorb essential nourishment. But you don’t need to worry. Today, there are plenty of excellent products on the market that supplement a baby’s diet, giving them all the goodness they need.
Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that promote gut health and digestion. Breastfed babies get a high level of probiotics through feeding, but those that are formula-fed need a little extra help. You can buy probiotic drops, but an easier and cheaper method of ensuring that your child gets digestive support is to purchase a fortified formula, such as similac probiotic formula.
Probiotics not only provide good bacteria but also get rid of harmful bacteria that can cause disease and intestinal discomfort. Premature babies, in particular, benefit from supplementary probiotics as they help prevent a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NE) which can destroy their bowels. Probiotics are also thought to be efficient in reducing painful colic symptoms and excessive crying.
Full-term babies are usually born with enough iron to see them through until they are between four and six months old. At that point, you can usually introduce an iron supplement but also begin to offer iron-fortified foods, too, so check with your pediatrician whether your baby needs both. Many rice and cereal products contain added iron, making it easier to boost their intake.
Most formulas contain iron, so formula-fed babies don’t need any more than what they get already; however, if your child was born prematurely or at a low birth weight – six pounds or smaller – your doctor may recommend they take an iron supplement from birth until they’re six to 12 months old, even if they’re formula-fed.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for building strong bones by helping the body to absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus. Children deficient in vitamin D are at risk of developing rickets. It’s a rare, bone-softening disease, but it still affects kids in the United States, and they’re especially at risk during the first two years of their life.
Formula-fed tots taking over 32 ounces of milk a day get sufficient levels of vitamin D during their feeds, but pediatricians recommend those drinking less than 32 ounces and breastfed babies start taking a supplement within a few days of birth. You can continue to give them vitamin D even after you wean them onto solids.
Most babies don’t need vitamin B12, but if you breastfeed and follow a vegan diet, you will need to take B12 supplements or eat fortified foods to be able to pass the benefit onto your baby. If you have a formula-fed vegan baby, look out for specialist, enriched soy formulas that ensure they’re getting the proper nutritional support. Vitamin B12 supports a healthy nervous system and prevents anemia; however, it’s found only in dairy, meat, fish and eggs; without adding vitamins into their diet, children have no way of getting this vital nutrient through a plant-based diet alone.
All parents want their children to grow up healthy and happy. Ensure your baby gets the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need for successful development by supplementing their diet with anything they’re unable to get elsewhere. However, always check with your pediatrician before introducing any supplement or food sources as not all babies need nutritional support, especially when you wean them onto solids.
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Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, fitness, and growing young. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym. She loves hearing from readers so feel free to contact her through Facebook.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.