What is DHA & ARA in Baby Formula & Why is it Important For Babies and Toddlers?

What is DHA & ARA in Baby Formula & Why is it Important For Babies and Toddlers?

As your toddler develops, DHA and ARA not only help support their brain development but their eyes and nervous system too. DHA and ARA supplements for infants can be a great way to help close the nutritional gap.

What is DHA & ARA in Baby Formula & Why is it Important For Babies and Toddlers?

You may have heard about the significance of omega fatty acids, or more specifically, DHA and ARA for your little one’s development. But what does DHA do for babies? And how does ARA help your little one’s development?

What is DHA and ARA?

DHA and ARA are what’s called “long chain” omega fatty acids. These fatty acids are quite the mouthful: the name DHA is shorthand for docosahexaenoic acid (a type of omega-3), and ARA, arachidonic acid (a type of omega-6). Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are both important unsaturated fats. They play a role in eye development, support a healthy immune system and are important for promoting brain structure and function. What a duo!

Beyond being brain-supporting fatty acids, studies about DHA and ARA-supplemented formula have suggested that it also helps support respiratory health. ARA plays a role in the function of all cells, such as in the nervous system, skeletal muscle, and immune system. Both breast milk and formula are good sources of DHA; however, the appropriate balance of DHA and ARA is important for your little one’s brain development. Think of ARA and DHA as a baby development power couple.

Food sources of DHA and ARA

One of the largest sources of DHA is fish and seafood, while ARA is found in red meats, chicken, and eggs. Generally, the more fish and meat that mom eats, the more DHA and ARA can be found in her breastmilk.

Toddler-friendly foods rich in DHA and ARA

Once your little one has begun to eat solid foods (around the 6-month mark), you can introduce foods that are rich in DHA and ARA. That said, many of these foods aren’t always palatable to toddlers (unless your little one has developed an acquired taste for sardines!) As such, you may notice though that it can be tough to get the expert-recommend 70-100 mg/day of DHA for toddlers through food alone.

By the 7 or 8 month mark, a varied toddler diet makes getting enough essential vitamins and minerals a bit easier, but it can still be tricky to ensure your little one is getting the expert-recommended amounts of DHA.

DHA in some common toddler foods:


Egg
1 large, regular
19 mg DHA

Canned tuna
2 oz, packed in water
57 mg DHA

Chicken Nuggets
4 pieces, white meat, pre-cooked, frozen (64g)
2 mg DHA

Quinoa
1/2 cup, cooked, any variety
14 mg DHA


ARA and DHA for toddlers and babies

DHA and ARA drops for infants are suitable for little ones from birth up to 24 months, so they’re suitable for your toddler too! After 24 months, they can transition to a toddler nutritional drink like Enfagrow to help bridge nutritional gaps.

What are the recommended amounts of DHA and ARA for babies?

Experts recommend 70-100 mg of DHA per day for little ones aged 0-24 months, and it’s important that infants and toddlers get appropriate amounts in their formative years. If they’re taking a DHA-supplemented formula, experts also recommend that they get at least the same amount of ARA. In fact, once your little one hits their third birthday, their brain growth will be a whopping 85% complete. As a result, it makes sense to get as many brain-supporting nutrients in their diet as early as possible. These precious and memorable first few years of life are a time when your baby’s brain grows at a faster rate than later in life, so both DHA and ARA are important early in life.

It’s reported that on average, toddlers only get about 25% of the expert-recommended DHA in their daily diets, so a DHA supplement may help bridge that nutritional gap.

Enfamil DHA-in-sol is a DHA and ARA supplement for infants and toddlers that has been specially formulated to provide a proper balance of DHA and ARA. The product was designed with breast milk consumption in mind.

Since so much development happens in the first few weeks after conception, (when many moms don’t even know they’re pregnant yet,) it’s also important for mama to start taking prenatal vitamins that have DHA when baby is just a twinkle in her eye. Enfamom prenatal vitamins come in soft gels or gummy varieties and provide the expert-recommended amounts of omega-3’s to support both mom and her developing baby.

Supplement drops: An easy-to-use ARA and DHA supplement for infants

ARA and DHA drops for infants are easy to administer, especially if your little one’s superpower is wiggling! Look for one without artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. And bonus points for being vegan-friendly!

Enfamil DHA-in-sol is a DHA and ARA supplement for infants and toddlers that has been specially formulated to provide a proper balance of DHA and ARA. The product was designed with breast milk consumption in mind.

Since so much development happens in the first few weeks after conception, (when many moms don’t even know they’re pregnant yet,) it’s also important for mama to start taking prenatal vitamins that have DHA when baby is just a twinkle in her eye. Enfamom prenatal vitamins come in soft gels or gummy varieties and provide the expert-recommended amounts of omega-3’s to support both mom and her developing baby.

Premature babies and DHA

Premature babies (aka babies born before 37 weeks) can be more likely to have lower levels of DHA than babies born full term. DHA intake in premature infants has been shown to be associated with several positive health outcomes. Keeping a close eye on premature baby development is especially important, so it’s suggested by some experts to supplement in addition to breastfeeding your preemie baby. As always, talk to your pediatrician for specific guidance before starting any supplement, as premature babies often have special feeding considerations.

While it can seem dizzying, when it’s all said and done, you’ve already completed the first step in learning about proper nutrition, from baby formula to breast milk, to supplementation for your little one. You’ve learned that there are several nutrients that support your infant as they transition to toddlerhood. And you’ve brushed up on important toddler nutrients too–so give yourself a pat on the back!