Infant and Toddler Nutrition

Infant and Toddler Nutrition

During the first two years of life, good nutrition is critical for a child's healthy growth and development. Children should be taught good nutrition practices from a young age to create healthy eating habits. This article combines accessible knowledge with practical suggestions for feeding nutritious meals and beverages to infants and toddlers aged birth to two years. Parents and caregivers can learn about nutrition to provide a healthy start for their children.


Your kid will get much nourishment from breast milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage exclusive nursing for around six months, then continuing breastfeeding while introducing supplementary foods until your kid is 12 months old or older. It gives your youngster the nutrition they need while also promoting growth and development.

Vitamins & Minerals

Breastfed babies require more vitamin D and may need more iron. Even though breast milk is an outstanding source of nutrition for your kid, they will require additional vitamin D (starting at birth) and possibly iron supplements.


Breastfeeding has several advantages for both you and your baby. For most newborns, breast milk is the best source of nutrients. In addition, your breast milk will adapt to fit your baby's nutritional needs as they grow. Breastfeeding can also help defend you and your baby from various illnesses and disorders, both short- and long-term.

  • Benefits to Baby: Breastfed babies have a lower risk of developing
    • Asthma.
    • Obesity.
    • Type 1 diabetes.
    • Severe lower respiratory disease.
    • Acute otitis media (ear infections).
    • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
    • Gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhoea/vomiting).
    • Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) for preterm infants.
  • Benefits to Mother: Breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of developing
    • Diabetes:
    • Breast cancer.
    • Ovarian cancer.
    • Type 2 diabetes.
    • High blood pressure.

How Much and How Often to Breastfeed?

Every infant is unique. Your baby's needs will determine how much and how often they feed. Here are a few things to consider regarding how much and how often babies nurse in their first days, weeks, and months.

First Days

  • Your newborn baby's stomach is teeny-tiny. Therefore, to be satisfied, they do not require a large amount of milk at each feeding.
  • Your infant may want to eat every one to three hours. Feeding your baby helps to enhance your milk production while also giving your baby practice sucking and swallowing.
  • Your infant may be sucking and swallowing breast milk, which you may hear.
  • In the first several days after receiving breast milk, most babies should not be given infant formula. However, if you're worried about meeting your baby's demands, go to a lactation consultant or your baby's nurse or doctor as soon as possible to figure out how to resolve any breastfeeding issues and figure out the best method to meet your baby's needs.

Some newborns are tired and don't want to be fed. To help them obtain adequate nutrients and thrive, newborns need to provide every 2 to 4 hours in the beginning. Then, you have to wake your baby to feed. To assist your baby wake up and eating, try patting, petting, undressing, or changing the diaper. Talk to your child's doctor or nurse if you have questions about your baby's growth, how much breast milk they are getting, or how much sleep they are getting.

First Weeks and Months

  • Your baby's belly will expand as they grow. As a result, at each feeding, your baby will be able to take more breast milk.
  • During the first few weeks and months, the period between feedings will begin to lengthen—most exclusively, and breastfed babies will feed every 2 to 4 hours on average. However, some babies may provide as frequently as every hour. Practice is known as cluster feeding, or you may sleep for 4 to 5 hours at a period.
  • The frequency with which your infant feeds may vary depending on the time of day. Some feeding sessions may be lengthy, while others may be brief. That's OK. Babies will usually take only as much as they require at each feeding and stop eating when satisfied. When they've had enough milk, they should appear content and tired after feeding.
  • In 24 hours, your baby will breastfeed 8 to 12 times.

6 to 12 Months

  • The feeding patterns of breastfed newborns (how often and for how long they nurse) vary and will most likely shift as they grow and begin eating solid foods.
  • Continue to listen to your baby's cues and nurse when they show indications of hunger (also known as "breastfeeding on-demand").
  • If your infant seems less interested in breastfeeding after you introduce food, try breastfeeding first.
  • Even after you start feeding your infant food, your breast milk is the most important source of nutrients.

12 to 24 Months

  • A toddler's breastfeeding frequency changes every day. Some women prefer to nurse solely before going to bed or in the morning. In contrast, others prefer to consume breast milk as a more significant part of their daily diet. Continue to pay attention to your child's signals to see when they are hungry and wants to breastfeed.

Infant Formula Feeding

Suppose you're giving your newborn infant formula. In that case, you should know a few things, including selecting an infant formula and preparing and storing it.

Choosing an Infant Formula

There is no one-size-fits-all infant formula. You should choose a baby formula that is designed specifically for babies. Commercial infant formulae are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fulfil minimal nutritional and safety standards. Iron-fortified infant formulae are suggested, and iron is found in most commercial infant formulas sold in the United States. Liquid and powdered infant formulae are available commercially. When selecting baby formula, keep the following in mind:

  • Check to see if it's still valid.
  • Check to see that the container is sealed and in good working order. Do not feed your infant if there are any leaks, puffy ends, or rust patches.
  • Check to see if it's labelled for toddlers.

If you have queries about choosing an infant formula for your baby or want to switch brands or types of infant formula, talk to your child's doctor or nurse.

Homemade Infant Formula

Using homemade infant formula can put your baby's health at risk. The nutritional requirements of your infant are highly particular, especially during the first year of life. As a result, specific components, such as vitamins and minerals, may be insufficient or excessive in homemade infant formulae. Homemade infant formula may also be more prone to contamination, putting your baby at risk of becoming ill or contracting an illness. The sterility of commercial powdered formulations is likewise unknown.

Toddler milk, beverages, or formulae are not required to provide the nutritional needs of young children. Sugar is usually added to them. Your child can start drinking plain whole cow's milk or fortified unsweetened soy beverage at the age of 12 months. Infant formulas specifically formulated to suit the nutritional demands of babies younger than 12 months should be provided. They should not be given toddler milk, beverages, or formula.

Vitamins & Minerals

To develop healthy and strong, your child requires a range of vitamins and minerals. Two of the most significant are vitamin D and iron.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D aids in the development of healthy bones and the prevention of rickets in children. Rickets is a bone softening illness that can affect children as they grow. All children require vitamin D from the time they are born.

  • Approximately babies under the age of 12 months require 400 IU of vitamin D each day.
  • Every day, children aged 12 to 24 months require 600 IU of vitamin D.

For babies that are exclusively breastfed or are fed both breast milk and baby formula:

  • Because breast milk typically does not meet all of a baby's vitamin D requirements, breastfed babies will require a daily dose of 400 IU of vitamin D starting shortly after birth.

For infants that are exclusively given infant formula:

  • There is no requirement for vitamin D supplementation.
  • Vitamin D is added to infant formulas.

Children who have begun to eat solid foods should: Make sure your child's diet includes vitamin D-rich foods. Vitamin D-rich meals include the following:

  • Some fish (for example, salmon or light canned tuna).
  • Eggs.
  • Vitamin D-fortified alert icon foods such as whole cow's milk (for children 12 months and older), yoghurt, cereals, and several 100% juices

Supplementing with vitamin D is another strategy to ensure that youngsters get enough vitamin D each day. Take them up with your doctor or nurse at your child's next check-up if you have any questions.


Iron is a mineral that serves a variety of purposes. Iron promotes a child's ability to learn by assisting red blood cells in transporting oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency alert Deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia can be prevented by having adequate iron in the body.

Your child may develop anaemia if they do not acquire enough iron. Anaemia occurs when the body's supply of red blood cells is insufficient or when your child's ability to transport oxygen throughout the body is impaired. A variety of factors can cause anaemia. Iron deficiency is a prevalent cause in young children. Anaemia is more likely to develop in children who do not get enough iron through iron-rich diets or supplements.

Iron is required for all children. It is critical at all phases of your child's growth. When it comes to iron, babies fed breast milk solely, exclusively formula, or a combination of milk and formula have varied needs.

  • Breast Milk:
    • Inform your child's nurse or doctor if they require iron supplements before the age of six months.
    • When your child starts to eat solid foods, it is critical to provide iron-rich foods to meet their nutritional requirements.
  • Formula:
    • For the first 12 months of your child's life, standard infant formulae will suffice.
    • Look for an iron-fortified formula.
    • Standard iron-fortified infant formulae have enough iron (12 mg/dL) to meet your child's increasing needs.
    • Once your child can eat solid foods, introduce iron-rich foods to them.

You can start providing solid foods to your baby when they are about six months old. Make sure to eat meals that are high in iron. Heme and non-heme iron are two types of iron found in meals.

Heme iron is more easily intake by the body and is typically found in animal products. Heme iron can be found in a variety of places, including:

  • Meat (red) (for example, beef, pork, lamb, goat, or venison)
  • Fish and seafood (for example, fatty fish)
  • Chickens and other poultry (for example, chicken or turkey)
  • Eggs

Plants and iron-fortified alert icon goods contain non-heme iron. Because the body less quickly absorbs this kind of iron, getting enough iron for your infant will require careful preparation. Non-heme category iron can be found in the following foods:

  • Infant cereals with added iron
  • Tofu
  • Lentils with beans
  • Leafy dark green vegetables

When non-heme iron sources are combined with vitamin C-rich meals, your baby will be able to absorb the iron they require to support development. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C include:

  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Berries
  • Papaya
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes, sweet
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Leafy dark green vegetables

It's critical to ensure that your youngster gets adequate iron. Some youngsters may require a higher level of iron than others. At your child's next check-up, discuss iron with their doctor or nurse. Furthermore, premature babies may need additional iron beyond that provided by breast milk or infant formula.

Your child's doctor or nurse will most likely test to discover if your infant has anaemia around the age of 12 months. Children who do not acquire enough iron can develop anaemia. Therefore, at your child's next check-up, discuss anaemia and iron with their doctor or nurse.

Foods and Drinks for Children Ages 6 to 24 Months

You can start introducing meals and fluids other than breast milk and infant formula to your child when they are about six months old. Complementary foods refer to the foods and beverages you feed your child. These might be considered "complementing" or "adding to" the breast milk or infant formula you're still feeding your child. Your kid will gain the abilities necessary to join in family meals within the first and second years of life. By the age of two, they will eat most of the same foods as the rest of the family. Your child's developmental milestones include skills like finger feeding, drinking from a cup, and using a spoon.