Throughout infancy, your baby’s bones grow in length, density (thickness), and strength. You can help your baby build strong bones. It is important for you to speak to your baby’s health care provider about the steps you can take to help your infant build strong bones.
Your baby needs the right amount of calories, protein, and other nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D to build strong bones. As your baby grows and moves more, this activity builds and strengthens bones, too!
Good Nutrition for Your Baby
According to the Academy of Pediatrics, breast milk is the preferred source of nutrition for a baby in the first year of life. It provides most of the nutrients that your baby needs to build strong bones. If you cannot or choose not to breastfeed, infant formula is the best alternative to provide the nutrients your baby needs.
Calcium is a key ingredient needed to build strong bones throughout life. During the first year of life, breast milk or formula is your baby’s main source of nutrition. Your baby will get all the calcium he or she needs by drinking enough breast milk or formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend cow’s milk or calcium supplements for babies under age one.
Vitamin D is needed so your baby can absorb calcium and use it to build strong bones. Whether your baby is breastfed or bottlefed will determine the best way to make sure he or she gets the recommended amount of vitamin D. Breast milk has many benefits and is rich in bone-healthy nutrients, however, it does not contain enough vitamin D. It is recommended that all breast-fed babies, including partially breast fed babies (drinking less than 32 ounces of formula a day), be given vitamin D drops. Vitamin D drops are recommended to be given beginning in the first few days of life and until infants are weaned and drinking 1 quart of formula fortified with vitamin D every day. It is important to speak to your baby's health care provider to find out if your baby needs a prescription for vitamin D drops.