Feeding Solid Foods to Infants
Vitamins and Minerals
As your infant transitions to solid foods, there are vitamins and minerals that he or she should also be consuming through food, liquids, or supplements. This includes:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the United States. The amount an infant needs depends on their age and birth weight.
Formula is fortified with iron, so babies on formula do not need additional iron. On the other hand, at four to six months, a full-term breastfed baby might not be getting enough iron from breast milk alone. Iron-fortified cereal or pureed meats are necessary to meet this nutritional requirement.
Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth cavities. It is often found in drinking water (you can check with your local water provider to see if your water is fluorinated).
Formula-fed babies (when water is used to mix the formula) may already be getting enough fluoride. Exclusively breastfed children may need supplementation starting at six months if the fluoride levels in the water are low. Talk to your healthcare provider about what makes the most sense for your child's particular situation.
Vitamin B12 is found in meat, eggs, dairy products, fortified cereals, and some soy products (including fortified soy milk). A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause serious and irreversible complications, including developmental delay.
Most infants get enough vitamin B12 through their diet alone. Vitamin B12 supplementation is needed for breastfed infants of strict vegetarian mothers or infants who eat a vegetarian diet.
Vitamin D is necessary for the development of healthy bones. A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to rickets, a condition that causes bones to be very fragile and break easily.
Infants and children should be getting 400 IU per day of vitamin D. In North America, infant formula, cereals, and cow's milk are fortified with vitamin D.
However, most breastfed and many formula-fed infants are not getting the recommended daily amount of vitamin D. Healthcare providers now recommend that within a few days after birth, infants should be given a vitamin D supplement containing at least 400 IU of vitamin D. Vitamin D is included in most non-prescription infant vitamin drops.