The Role of Omega 3 in Reaching Baby Growth Milestones

Every single day your baby learns something new. From infancy to toddlerhood, they go through a critical period of physical growth as well as mental development. The next few years after they are born, babies rapidly learn so many new things—rolling over and crawling, babbling and talking, walking and running, creating a mess and making actual art, and so on. 

To make sure that your baby meets its milestones on time and learns well, the foremost factor to pay attention to is nutrition. Where most people cover the macros when designing their little one’s diet, micronutrients often get little attention. Today, we’re talking about one of the best micronutrients you can add to your baby’s diet for their overall growth and development—omega 3

What Makes Omega 3 a Necessity for Life’s Early Stages?

Only when your baby gets the proper nutrition for their age, they approach early development well. Of all the micronutrients, one of the key players in growth milestones is the right amount of polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). From cellular structure to growth-related physiological processes, EPA and DHA play a vital role in the bodily functions of babies.

Understanding the importance of DHA in development…

Omega 3 fatty acid DHA receives special attention from health experts around the world for its role in early development. The reason? 

DHA is actually present in the composition of our brain matter—the grey matter, to be specific. It’s the part of your brain that has a role to play in memory and learning. Hence the reason why it’s important that your baby gets enough of it. DHA also plays a crucial role in the development of a baby’s retina.

When you provide your baby with sufficient DHA, it significantly impacts their long-term development. There are various foundational functions of the developing brain that have much to gain from DHA, including:

  • Language learning abilities
  • Thinking and logic capabilities
  • Progress in physical skills
  • Immune system development 
  • Focus and concentration

Before birth, the mother provides the necessary DHA for fetal growth through the placenta. After birth, infants need to get DHA from breast milk, formulas with DHA, or omega 3 supplements like fish oil.

The significance of EPA in baby’s development…

Does your baby need both EPA and DHA or just DHA to meet growth milestones? The fact is, DHA is seen as the more crucial omega 3 during early development. EPA is important for immune and cardiovascular health at any age since it is not present in high levels in the brain and retina. 

That said, you need to ensure that both EPA and DHA are present in sufficient percentages—with a higher focus on DHA. Both omega 3 fatty acids play crucial roles in brain health and neural connectivity, ensuring optimal growth and function.

Why Add Omega 3 Supplementation To Your Baby’s Diet?

A natural question that arises on the subject of giving omega 3 to babies is this: why not go directly to the source? Can’t babies get their omega 3 from fish?

Here is the thing: even though EPA and DHA are crucial for the development and meeting growth milestones, your baby or toddler may not be getting enough omega 3. This is supported by research, which reveals that:

  • The typical diet (focus on babies and toddlers in the U.S. and Europe in general) falls short in terms of omega 3 fatty acids. In some cases, this is due to a lack of availability of fish.
  • Babies can be sensitive to fish and other seafood, in general, or at the beginning stages of life. Processed omega 3 supplements are designed to provide nutrition without flare-ups or digestive issues.

Your baby is dependent on its mother for omega 3 during gestation and breastfeeding (or formula). If the mother’s milk or the formula does not have adequate omega 3, especially DHA as well, then a supplement is a necessary addition to the diet. You’ll find omega 3 fish oil supplements specifically made for babies that provide them the nutritious goodness they need to grow well and reach their mental and physical development milestones on time!

Do All Babies Need Omega 3 Supplements? 

Who needs omega 3 supplementation? Babies as young as weeks-old infants? What about toddlers? Is there a difference between the omega 3 needs of breast-fed and formula-fed babies? 

Here’s what you need to know: omega 3 requirements in babies and toddlers vary based on factors such as their diet source, intake of EPA and DHA, and developmental stages like age and weight. 

In the case of babies who take primarily breast milk, the omega 3 levels in the mother’s milk determine the need for direct supplementation. Never make the assumption that breastfeeding mothers have sufficient omega 3 levels. In the absence of formal testing, or if the test shows insufficient omega 3 in breast milk, go for omega 3 supplements in breastfed children. 

As for babies who chiefly take formulas, know that a little bit of omega 3 comes their way automatically. However, even though many formulas now contain DHA, the amount and quality of DHA in these formulas may not be optimal to meet daily requirements. Therefore, it is best to your formula-fed baby’s diet with a high-quality omega 3 fish oil.

How Much Omega 3 Do Babies Need?

Naturally, babies need way less omega 3 than adults, and health experts recommend caution when choosing a supplement. Lean towards omega-3 fish oil with lower doses of EPA and DHA.

For babies between 0 to 3 years, aim for 500 mg of EPA+DHA daily. Children aged 1 to 3 years should get 800 mg of EPA+DHA per day. However, these figures are based on average weight and height and do not factor in special health issues. So, consult a doctor and go for personalized blood testing to determine exactly how much omega 3 is good for your baby.

The Verdict

Your child’s early years are the years to be as diligent as possible about their nutrition. It’s during this period that the right nutrients play a crucial role in shaping a child’s future. Add omega 3 to their dietary regime in the correct and safe dosage, and introduce incredible health and development advantages to their life!