Baby Nutrition: What You Need to Know

Baby Nutrition: What You Need to Know

Good nutrition plays a big part when it comes to a baby’s growth and development. Knowing the nutritional requirements for babies 0-12 months can help parents make informed decisions about what their baby eats.

By providing exactly what types of food their baby needs, parents can ensure that their babies grow up to be healthy and strong.

Babies go through a lot of changes in their body as they grow and develop during their first year. It is because of this period of rapid growth and development that babies need a lot of essential nutrients to make sure that everything is on track.

Without proper nutrition, babies can have cognitive and developmental problems, or even grow up to have a weakened immune system.

This is why when it comes to baby nutrition, food that has a lot of vitamins and minerals should be a priority. The better the quality of nutrients that a baby eats, the healthier and better their growth and development get.

Babies need to be given the right type of food

However, there’s more to a baby’s diet than just providing them with healthy foods. The food should also be appropriate for their age.

For example, newborns can only drink breast milk, but as they grow older they can start eating soft foods, and eventually they are able to eat solid foods by the time they are toddlers.

By providing the right type of food, parents can ensure that their baby can absorb all of the nutrients essential for growth.


Food Guidelines

Here are some general guidelines when it comes to the nutritional requirements for babies 0-12 months:

For newborns

  • Breast milk is ideal for newborns up until 6 months (and can be continued up until the mother and their child have mutually understood that breastfeeding can stop). However, babies older than 6 months can still breastfeed along with eating solid food.
  • Breastfeeding should start immediately after birth
  • Breast milk provides all of the nutrients that a growing baby needs.
  • For mothers who are not able to breastfeed, formula milk can be an alternative. However, exclusive breastfeeding is still recommended by doctors. Please consult your doctor/pediatrician first before starting formula milk

It is important to note that not all formula milk is created equal. When choosing the right formula milk for your baby, always consult your doctor.

Solid food

  • Soft/Solid food is not a replacement for Breastfeeding/Breast milk… it is only a “complement” for breastmilk.
  • Introduce soft, solid foods slowly. Wait 3-4 days before giving your child another solid food.
  • Use a small spoon when feeding your baby, and feed them only small amounts to avoid choking.
  • Don’t force your baby to finish their food, especially if they are already full.
  • At 6 to 8 months old, start with soft, mushy foods that are easily digestible.
  • For babies who are 8 to 10 months old, be sure to cut up any big chunks of food into small pieces.
  • Avoid using salt or sugar when preparing your child’s food.

What to avoid

  • Newborns typically do not need to drink water, as breast milk already provides all of the water they need.
  • Honey should be avoided during the first year as this can cause infant botulism.
  • Cow’s milk should also be avoided, and not used as a substitute for breast milk.
  • Avoid giving solid food too early, because it may cause your child to become overweight.
  • Cereals with iron should be avoided until your child is 18 months old.

Key Nutrients for Growth and Development

Here is a list of the essential nutrients that can fulfill the nutritional requirements of babies 0-12 months old.


Carbohydrates are important because they provide energy that a growing baby needs. It functions as the primary energy source for babies, and it is important to make sure that they get enough carbohydrates to support their growth and development.

Newborn babies get enough carbohydrates from breast milk, but older babies can get it from rich food sources such as rice, bread, and sweet potato.


Protein is an essential nutrient that helps fulfill the nutritional requirements of babies 0-12 months old. It functions as the building blocks of muscles, and also helps build and repair tissues for the eyes, skin, heart, lungs, brain, and other organs.

Protein is also responsible for the production of hormones that are necessary for normal growth and development of babies.

Foods rich in protein include breast milk, eggs, legumes, lean meat, chicken, and fish.


For most adults, fat would not necessarily be a part of a healthy diet. But for babies, fat is an essential part of their nutrition.

Fat helps supply babies with energy, allows the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and also helps with brain development.

For the most part, breast milk and infant milk can provide the fat necessary for a baby’s growth and development. However, other sources of fat include, butter, vegetable oil, and fatty fish such as tuna and salmon.

However, it is important to limit the fat intake of babies, since it can cause problems if eaten in large amounts.

Vitamins A, D, E, C

Vitamins A, D, E, and C are all important vitamins that help regulate body functions, and promote normal growth and development in babies.

  • Vitamin A helps with proper vision, healthy skin, and a healthy immune system.
  • Vitamin D helps with bone formation, and proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
  • Vitamin E helps protect vitamin A in the body, and helps prevent the breakdown of tissues.
  • Vitamin C helps form collagen that is essential in the development of bones, cartilage, blood vessels, and other connective tissue. It also helps with wound healing, strengthens the immune system, and helps the body absorb iron better.

These vitamins are found in breast milk, as well as fruits and vegetables. Ideally, your baby should be eating more fruits and vegetables in order to get the vitamins and minerals that they need to grow.

B Vitamins

B vitamins include vitamin B1,B2,B6,B12, niacin, thiamine, and folate. These vitamins are essential for regulating body functions, as well as brain development.

They also help promote cell health and cell metabolism.

Just like the other vitamins, B vitamins can be found in breast milk as well as fruits and vegetables.


Calcium helps with healthy bone and tooth development, blood clotting, and maintenance of the nerves and muscles.

The best sources of calcium for babies are from breast milk or infant formula.


Iron is a vital nutrient that is important when it comes to the production of red blood cells. Iron also helps prevent iron-deficiency anemia in babies.

It can be found in breast milk, formula milk, red meat, fish, liver, and legumes.

It would be best to obtain iron from these sources, rather than from supplements, because they are more readily absorbed by the body.


Zinc is a nutrient that helps promote wound healing, blood formation, and formation of protein in the body. In addition, it also helps support a growing baby’s immune system.

Good sources of zinc are breast milk, red meat, and fish, eggs, and liver.


Sodium is a mineral that helps maintain the balance of water in the body, regulates blood volume, as well as ensures the function of cells and cell membranes.

For the most part, breast milk and formula milk can provide all of the sodium that a growing baby needs.

While sodium is indeed found in salt, it would be best to avoid adding salt to your baby’s food as they do not need to eat a lot of salt at a young age.


Lastly, water is an essential nutrient that your baby’s body needs. It helps regulate kidney function, metabolism, as well as the transportation of nutrients around the body. It also helps with regulating body temperature.

For babies aged 0-4 months old, all of the water they need can be found in breast milk. However, as babies start to eat solid food, they also need to drink water as part of their meals.

Nutritional Breakdown

Here is a breakdown of how much of each nutrient your baby needs.

Nutritional requirements for babies:


0-6 months: 60 grams per day

6-12 months: 90 grams per day


0-6 months: 9.1 grams per day

6-12 months: 11 grams per day


0-6 months: 31 grams per day

6-12 months: 30 grams per day

Vitamins A, D, E, C

0-6 months:

  • 400 µg vitamin A
  • 5 µg vitamin D
  • 4 mg vitamin E,
  • 40 mg vitamin C per day

6-12 months

  • 500 µg vitamin A
  • 25 µg vitamin D
  • 5 mg vitamin E
  • 50 mg vitamin C per day

B Vitamins

0-6 months: 0.1 to 0.3 mg per day

6-12 months: 0.3 to 0.4 mg per day


0-6 months: 65 µg per day

6-12 months: 80 µg per day


0-6 months: 2 mg per day

6-12 months: 4 mg per day


0-6 months: 210 mg per day

6-12 months: 270 mg per day


0-6 months: 0.27 mg per day

6-12 months: 11 mg per day


0-6 months: 4 mg per day

6-12 months: 5 mg per day


0-6 months: 100 to 200 mg per day

6-12 months: 100 to 200 mg per day


0-6 months: Only water from breast milk

6-12 months: 4-8 ounces of water

By being aware of the nutritional requirements for babies, you can better provide for your child’s dietary needs. c

It is also important to consult your child’s doctor if you have any concerns with your child’s nutrition. They would best be able to provide you with the answers that you need to help care for your child.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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Infant and Toddler Nutrition | Nutrition | CDC,, Accessed August 03 2020

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Feeding your baby: 6–12 months | UNICEF Parenting,, Accessed August 03 2020

Nutrition for Baby – British Nutrition Foundation,, Accessed August 03 2020

Starting Solid Foods –,,

10 Best Foods for Babies,, Accessed August 03 2020

Healthy food groups: babies & toddlers | Raising Children Network,, Accessed August 03 2020

Feeding Guide for the First Year,, Accessed August 03 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jun 15, 2021
Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS