As your child grows, their nutritional needs change. As parents, it is our duty to make sure that our child is getting the right amount of food and at the same time, these foods should also be filled with the appropriate vitamins and minerals that is needed by their body. Here’s a guideline on what kind of foods should you provide in order to minimize making the mistake of giving unhealthy foods to your child.

0 to 6 months old

Newborns up to 6 months of age are recommended to be breastfed exclusively and should not be given any juice or water along with it. Mothers should also breastfeed on demand, as often as the child wants, whether it is during daytime or nighttime. Breast milk is naturally produced and should be the first food for babies as it provides high amounts of energy, nutrients and even antibodies that your baby needs during the first few months of their life. It also promotes sensory or cognitive development and helps fight off diseases.

As much as it is beneficial for the babies, it is also helpful for the mother as it promotes the bonding with their child, and at the same time it delays their menstruation, preventing another pregnancy for the next 6 months. Lastly, it can also help lose some calories for mothers and helps them lose some of the weight they gained during pregnancy.

If the circumstances of the mother do not allow her to breastfeed, it is the only time that you can give the baby formula-milk. It is still not as beneficial as breast milk as it has less vitamins and benefits than that of breast milk. In some cases, babies may also be allergic to some of the contents of the formula milk which may pose danger to your baby.

Your pediatrician will also give your baby supportive vitamins such as vitamin B, C and D that will help in their development and supplement those that your baby’s body can’t produce or make use of yet.

6 months to 1 year old

As your baby grows older, breastfeeding may not be enough to support their nutritional needs, hence the introduction of complementary foods. The introduction of complementary foods serves as a transition to eating table foods. WHO recommends that they should be started with complementary foods at 6 months in addition to breast milk and should have the frequency of:

• 6-8 months: At least 2 to 3 times daily
• 9-11 months: At least 3 to 4 times daily
• 12-24 months: additional nutritious snacks offered at least 1 to 2 times per day, as desired by your infant

Adding complementary foods into your baby’s diet should be measured not just by quantity but also in the consistency, frequency and the variety of food that you will give to your baby.

Signs that your baby is ready for food

Here are some signs that you will notice within 4-6 months that show your child might be ready to start solids:

• When your baby is able to sit with support and hold their head upright.
• Shows eagerness to eat and wants to chew food and keeps putting things in their mouth.
• Does not appear satisfied anymore with just breast milk.

Important nutrients and vitamins

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for growth, body functions and activity. It serves as a building block in our body and helps protein in building new tissues and repairing them.

Recommended intake per day

0–6 months 60 g/day of carbohydrate

Breast milk and formula milk are the major source of carbohydrates at this age. If your baby is lactose intolerant, it can be provided by corn syrups and lactose-free solids.

7–12 months 95 g/day of carbohydrate

Cereals, grain products, fruits and vegetables are their source of carbohydrates. Juice can be given to them since they can already absorb carbohydrates properly.

Protein

Protein is a major factor in helping build, maintain, and repair new tissues in the body. It also helps manufacture important enzymes, hormones and antibodies that help regulate the body’s process.

Recommended intake per day:

0–6 months 9.1 g/day of protein

Infant formula has a higher amount of proteins than breast milk.

7–12 months 11 g/day of protein

Sources of proteins at this age are the following: meat, poultry, fish, egg yolks, cheese, yogurts, legumes and cereals.

Lipids

Infants require lipids in their diet because it is the major supplier of energy for their body. It also helps in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (ADEK) and serves as insulator in their body once accumulated.

Recommended intake per day:

0–6 months 31 g/day of fat

Both breast milk and formula milk are important sources of lipids. At about 2 weeks after delivery, the breast milk already provides 50 % of calories.

7–12 months 30 g/day of fat

Other sources of lipids for infants at this age are the following: meats, cheese, egg yolks, other dairy products and any fats or oils used in the preparation of the food.

Vitamin D

Recommended intake per day:

0–12 months 200IU to 1000IU/day

Vitamin D is the major vitamin that helps in the proper formation of bones by utilizing calcium and phosphorus in your baby’s body. Sunlight exposure helps activate vitamin D, increasing its supply in the blood. Other sources are fish, liver and egg yolk.

Vitamin A

Recommended intake per day for the following:

0–6 months 400 µg Retinol Active Equivalent/day of vitamin A
7–12 months 500 µg Retinol Active Equivalent/day of vitamin A

Vitamin A helps maintain the skin, hair, and eyes. It also helps boost the immune system of your baby. Additional sources of vitamin A are dark green leafy vegetables and liver.

Vitamin E

Recommended intake per day for the following:

0–6 months 4 mg/day of α-tocopherol
7–12 months 5 mg/day of α-tocopherol

Vitamin E prevents the breakdown of tissues in our body. At the same time, it also protects the vitamin A and essential fatty acids in the body. Vitamin E is often destroyed during the cooking process, but can be taken from green leafy vegetables, whole-grain breads, cereals and even fortified grain products.

Vitamin K

Recommended intake per day for the following:

0–6 months 2.0 µg/day of vitamin K
7–12 months 2.5 µg/day of vitamin K

Vitamin K helps in the proper clotting of the blood. Breast milk has low supply of Vitamin K hence it is recommended that infants should have an intramuscular injection of it at birth.

VITAMIN C

Recommended intake per day for the following:

0–6 months 40 mg/day vitamin C
7–12 months 50 mg/day vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins for infants since it helps in the formation of collagen, which is a vital protein that is needed for the proper structuring of bones, cartilage, muscle and blood.

Vitamin K, it also helps heal your baby’s wounds. Lastly, it is well known for being an effective vitamin that increases your baby’s immune system, making them less prone to acquiring infection. Sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes).

Calcium

Recommended intake per day for the following:

0–6 months 210 mg/day of calcium
7–12 months 270 mg/day of calcium

Calcium is an important mineral that helps promote bone and tooth development, blood clotting and for the maintenance of our body’s nerves and muscles. Milk is a must for infants and especially newborns, since it is a great source of calcium. Other sources of calcium are the following: yogurt, cheese, fortified grain products and green leafy vegetables.

Estimated energy requirement of infants

FOR MALES

FOR FEMALES: