Nutrition for Babies and Toddlers
Feeding your child foods full of the nutrients they need to grow up healthy and strong - it’s every parent’s goal. But it can be a pretty complicated process to dive into as well.
How much should you be feeding them at each stage of their life? What foods should be included, and which should be avoided? Parents just like you ask these questions every day. And that’s why we’ve created this guide to nutrition for babies and toddlers - so you can feel confident that you feed them the best every day.
How Much Do Babies Eat?
During the first year of your baby's life their primary source of food and calories should be from breastmilk and/or formula. Around six months of age, your child may begin to express an interest in solid foods. Following their readiness cues is the best way to know that they are ready to expand their diet to incorporating solids as a complement to breastmilk and/or formula.
Babies have a finely-tuned sense of their own hunger needs - let them breastfeed or bottle-feed as often and as much as they like during the first year. Babies will go through five main growth spurts during their first year, and during those periods, they may be hungrier than usual. Follow their lead and let them eat more at those times according to their hunger cues.
Signs of Overfeeding a Baby
If you’re worried about overfeeding your baby, you’re not alone - that’s a common fear for new parents. Tuning into your baby’s hunger cues is the best way to avoid overfeeding your child.
It’s normal for babies to occasionally spit up after a meal, so don’t worry if that happens after a feeding or a burping. But you may also be overfeeding your baby if you notice one or more of these symptoms:
- Gassiness or burping
- Vomiting after eating
- Frequent spit up
- Gagging or choking
- Fussiness, crying, or irritability after meals
Many babies do these things, so there’s no need to worry if it only happens on an occasional basis. But if you notice these symptoms happening frequently and are concerned, consult with a pediatrician before you make any changes to your baby’s diet.
During your child's first few years of life their bodies are growing at a rapid rate. In their first year of life their brain alone will double in size. Providing your child with key nutrients will help support gut and bone health, immunity and brain development, and give your child the most nutritious start possible. This will also help to cultivate a lifelong positive relationship with food, foster healthy eating patterns and create a willingness to try new things.
Nutrients for Babies
Babies under the age of one should primarily get their daily required nourishment and calories from breastmilk and/or formula. When you begin to introduce solid foods, typically around six months or when they are showing signs of readiness, those foods should be supplementary. Although they are supplemental, they are incredibly important as well.
When first introducing solid foods, focus on exposing your child to a wide variety of textures, flavors and tastes, while also remembering that it is developmentally appropriate for babies to need to try a food multiple times before they like it. So don’t get discouraged too fast.
Focus on providing a diet that is rich in these key nutrients:
- Protein and carbohydrates for energy and fueling growth
- Fat for energy, brain development, and keeping skin and hair healthy
- Calcium for strong teeth and bones
- Iron to build blood cells and help the brain develop
- Zinc to help cells grow and repair themselves
Feeding your baby a well-balanced diet rich in whole foods once they begin to eat solids will help them develop a palate that enjoys fruits, vegetables, and other healthy meal items.
Toddler Nutrient Guidelines
Once your baby has passed the one-year mark and they start getting the majority of their calorie intake from food, nutrients become even more important.
It’s developmentally appropriate that toddlers will begin to voice opinions on what they want to eat. Setting a foundation of diverse tastes, textures and flavors from day one can help ensure that toddlers are getting the nutrients they need to fuel their growth.
Providing regular, healthy meals and a supportive environment can help maintain a positive mealtime experience. When determining what to feed your toddler it is vital to include healthy fats from milk, avocados, Greek yogurt, and peanut butter, as part of their diet to help support brain growth. Other important nutrients to provide include calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Focus on portion sizes that are about ¼ the size of an adult meal.
Looking for a way to simplify feeding your baby or toddler a healthy, whole-foods-based diet? Tiny Organics was created for parents like you. With real, plant-based ingredients, our meals are made fresh and delivered right to your door. Raising a healthy eater just got a whole lot easier.