Why DHA is Important for Milestone Development

The ABCs of DHA — and why it's important for milestone development.

Chances are that you've heard something about DHA for babies. Perhaps you know quite a bit about this important fatty acid or maybe you've simply noticed it on a label or a can of formula. Read on to learn about DHA benefits for babies and toddlers during the first few years of life.

What exactly is DHA?

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that's a building block for your baby's brain and eyes. The name DHA is the scientific shorthand for docosahexaenoic acid. While many people take supplements, DHA occurs naturally in some foods such as salmon, sardines and eggs.

Why is DHA for babies important?

Many scientists believe that DHA is more important for babies when the brain and eyes are rapidly developing - during the last trimester of pregnancy through to the second year of life. They get DHA from their mother in the womb, and after birth, breastfed babies get DHA from their mother's breast milk.

Once your baby is born—and through the first two years of life—his brain develops more rapidly than it ever will again. In fact, the brain grows 175% in the first year of life. That's why many experts believe it's important for babies to receive DHA during this time of rapid brain development.

In addition to supporting brain and eye development, other DHA benefits for babies include immune system support.

How do I include DHA in my baby's diet?

Experts recommend that pregnant and nursing women get DHA by eating DHA-rich foods, including fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna. If you're not breastfeeding, experts recommend you should use an infant formula that has DHA (DHA should account for at least 0.2% of total fatty acids in the formula). Enfamil NeuroPro™ has 0.32% of total fatty acids as DHA, similar to levels found in mature breast milk.

Once a baby outgrows formula, DHA continues to be important during the first years of life. Toddlers only get about 25% of the expert-recommended amount of DHA* in their daily diets. Helping fill the gap is as easy as adding Enfagrow PREMIUM™ Toddler Transitions® or Enfagrow PREMIUM™ Toddler Next Step™ to your toddler's menu.

*experts recommend 70-100 mg of DHA per day for toddlers