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Nutritional Programs for Infancy

© Elson M. Haas MD

After one year, the infant’s diet may shift. Food needs for growth are less now as the rate of growth slows down. Many parents become concerned because it appears that the child isn’t eating, but this is usually fine. Eating habits may change, food likes and dislikes develop. Try not to make eating a battle, and avoid games and rewards. Let the child eat; he or she will communicate his or her needs. Just offer nourishing foods and avoid sweet treats. Balance the diet over days, not at each meal, so that meals can be simple. Most healthy children eat only what their bodies need.

In regard to supplements to the diet in the first two years, most parents are more comfortable with a moderate insurance formula that at least covers the child’s Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs). Some parents and pediatricians feel that for healthy babies on breast milk and infants eating a good diet, additional supplements are not really needed.

When a vitamin formula is used, it is often a liquid supplement in the first year, and after that a flavorful chewable. For toddlers, the multiple should contain all of the B vitamins, vitamins C, E, and A. Basic minerals such as calcium and iron, as well as zinc, magnesium, manganese, and even a little chromium and selenium can also be included. I suggest more natural, chemical-free supplements, without sugar and artificial food colorings and flavors. The bigger companies with inexpensive vitamins may not believe that synthetic, treated chemical formulas are of concern, but many doctors and parents nowadays would certainly rather avoid those products.

The following chart shows the levels of vitamins and minerals suggested for this age group at the beginning of life. Some values are slightly higher than the RDAs to provide that extra margin of safety, particularly to cover those infants who may need more of some nutrients than others or for those who might be sick and need higher amounts of certain vitamins or minerals. Later sections suggest what nutrients might be needed in higher amounts in specific health situations; do not, however, use the levels suggested for adults. Talk to your doctor or refer to specific literature to find appropriate dosages for specific age groups.

Infants have been overdosed on some vitamins because of parents’ misunderstanding of authors’ suggestions. Vitamin A toxicity is probably most common. Do not overuse vitamin A or D or cod liver oil, which is high in both, or the minerals calcium, phosphorus, or iron. Breastfed babies can get a bit deficient in vitamin D unless they get a little sunlight exposure. Babies need a balanced diet and lifestyle, too.

Breast milk is usually low in fluoride, and though fluoride use is still debatable, it appears relatively safe to supplement, and thus many parents and doctors use fluoridated vitamins to protect against tooth decay. However, if mother drinks fluoridated water, it is now recommended NOT to give fluoridated vitamins to breastfed babies since it comes through the milk. Also, no fluoride supplements should be used at any age if the water is fluoridated.


Daily Nutrients - Infants and Toddlers

Birth–6 Months 6 Months–1 Year 1–2 Years
Calories115/kg. 105–110/kg.1,200–1,400
Protein (grams)2.2 g./kg. 2.0 g./kg.22–25 g.
Vitamin A2,000 IUs 2,000 IUs2,500 IUs
Vitamin D400 IUs 400 IUs400 IUs
Vitamin E5 IUs 6 IUs8 IUs
Vitamin K15 mcg. 25 mcg.30 mcg.
Thiamine (B1)0.4 mg. 0.6 mg.0.8 mg.
Riboflavin (B2)0.5 mg. 0.7 mg.0.9 mg.
Niacine(B3)6 mg. 8 mg.10 mg.
Pantothenic acid (B5)3 mg. 3 mg.4 mg.
Pyridoxine (B6)0.4 mg. 0.6 mg.1.0 mg.
Cobalamin (B12)1.0 mcg. 2.0 mcg.2.5 mcg.
Folic acid40 mcg. 60 mcg.100 mcg.
Biotin50 mcg. 50 mcg.50 mcg.
Vitamin C40 mg. 60 mg.100 mg.
Calcium400 mg. 600 mg.800 mg.
Chloride0.6 g. 1.0 g.1.2 g.
Chromium50 mcg. 60 mcg.80 mcg.
Copper 0.7 mg. 1.0 mg.1.5 mg.
Fluoride0.3 mg. 0.6 mg.1.0 mg.
Iodine50 mcg. 60 mcg.80 mcg.
Iron10 mg. 15 mg.15 mg.
Magnesium70 mg. 90 mg.150 mg.
Manganese0.7 mg. 1.0 mg.1.5 mg.
Molybdenum60 mcg. 80 mcg.100 mcg.
Phosphorus300 mg. 500 mg.800 mg.
Potassium0.7 mg. 1.0 mg.1.5 mg.
Selenium40 mcg. 60 mcg.80 mcg.
Sodium0.3 g. 0.6 g.0.9 g.
Zinc4 mg. 6 mg.10 mg.
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About The Author
Elson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
 
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