Proper nutrition is crucial for infants as they grow and develop. Although childhood obesity is a concern in some developed countries, such as the United States, infancy is not a time to restrict calories. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development notes that infants often require 438 to 844 calories per day, depending on their age, size and gender.
Breast Milk and Formula
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests women exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of an infant’s life. After that, it is recommended to breastfeed, as well as offer complimentary foods to your baby until he turns a year old. Infant formula is a viable alternative for women who are unable to breastfeed. MedlinePlus reports that standard infant formulas contain 20 calories per ounce. However, the calorie content of infant formula varies -- higher-calorie formulas are available, but ask your pediatrician what formula is right for your baby.
After six months your infant may be ready for whole-milk yogurt – if your pediatrician gives you the OK. Avoid low-fat or fat-free yogurts because babies need the extra fat for proper brain development. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, 1 ounce of whole-milk baby yogurt made with fruit, added DHA and multigrain cereal contains 30 calories in each ounce.
When your baby is ready for finger food, it’s generally OK to offer infants cheese in small amounts, reports MedlinePlus. Choose high-fat cottage cheese, mild cheddar or mozzarella cheeses, for example. The USDA notes that 1 ounce of cheddar cheese provides 114 calories. However, avoid soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk – such as feta, Brie, Camembert and queso fresco – because they could be contaminated with listeria.
Meat and Eggs
Although your baby shouldn’t have egg whites until he reaches the year-old mark, egg yolks – three to four times weekly -- and strained meats are calorie- and protein-rich options for 8- to 12-month-olds, suggests MedlinePlus. Strained meats and egg yolks are also important sources of dietary iron for infants. The USDA reports that 1 ounce of strained chicken baby food contains 37 calories, and one large egg yolk provides your baby with 55 calories.
Avocados are rich in healthy fats -- which is beneficial for infants because they require a high-fat diet -- and calories. Calculations using the USDA National Nutrient Database show that one-eighth cup of a pureed avocado provides your baby with 46 calories. Avocados are also an excellent source of potassium, folate and vitamin E, the USDA notes. While older infants may be able to eat avocados with their fingers, ripe avocados are easy to puree at home.
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: What are the DGAs for Moms & Infants?
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding
- Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania: Breastfeeding and Lactation
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 03956, Babyfood, Yogurt, Whole Milk, with Fruit, Multigrain Cereal and Added DHA
- MedlinePlus: Infant Formulas
- MedlinePlus: Age-Appropriate Diet for Children
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 01009, Cheese, Cheddar
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 03012, Babyfood, Meat, Chicken, Strained
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 01125, Egg, Yolk, Raw, Fresh
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 09037, Avocados, Raw, All Commercial Varieties