What percent of calories should total fat make up in an infants diet quizlet?

Quick Answer

The recommended percentage of calories from fat for infants depends on their age:

  • 0-6 months: 30-60% of calories
  • 6-12 months: 30-40% of calories

A balanced diet is essential for an infant’s growth and development. One of the key macronutrients in an infant’s diet is fat, which provides energy and supports brain and nervous system development. Determining the right percentage of calories from fat for an infant can be confusing for parents and caregivers. This article will break down the recommendations for fat intake at different stages in an infant’s first year to help inform optimal feeding practices.

Fat Needs in the First 6 Months

For the first 6 months of life, breast milk or formula are the only foods and drinks infants need. Both breast milk and standard infant formulas have around 50% of calories from fat. This proportion of fat calories helps infants meet their high energy needs in a small volume of milk.

Some key reasons the fat content of breast milk and formula is set at around 50% of calories:

  • Fat is a concentrated source of calories to support rapid growth
  • Fat aids in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Essential fatty acids in fat support brain and nervous system development
  • A high fat content reduces the renal solute load on the infant’s immature kidneys

Given the benefits of a higher fat intake, the recommended range for fat calories in an exclusively breast or formula fed infant’s diet from 0-6 months is 30-60% of total calories. Breast milk and standard formula both fall within that range.

0-6 Month Fat Recommendations Summary

  • 30-60% of calories from fat
  • ~50% of calories in breast milk and standard infant formula

Fat Needs from 6-12 Months

Around 6 months of age, infants begin eating solid foods in addition to breast milk or formula. The introduction of solids impacts their fat needs.

From 6-12 months, infants are rapidly growing and developing. Fat continues to provide concentrated calories and nutritional benefits. However, infants start consuming a wider variety of foods with different fat contents. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for fat intake decreases slightly to reflect the change in diet patterns.

Some key factors impacting fat needs from 6-12 months include:

  • Slower growth rate than 0-6 months reduces calorie needs
  • Fat content varies in complementary foods
  • Infants start self-feeding and regulate appetite
  • Transition to a more mature kidney able to handle increased renal solute load

Based on these changing nutritional needs, the recommended percentage of calories from fat decreases from the 0-6 month levels to 30-40% from 6-12 months. This range allows fat to continue providing important benefits while allowing for a transition to a more diverse diet.

6-12 Month Fat Recommendations Summary

  • 30-40% of calories from fat
  • Gradual transition from higher fat milk feedings

Following the Fat Recommendations

It can be challenging for caregivers to estimate fat intake levels for infants. However, there are some steps that can help ensure infants stay within the recommended fat calorie ranges at different ages:

  • 0-6 months: exclusively breastfeed or use a standard infant formula
  • 6-12 months: include healthy fats like avocado, nut butters, olive oil, and fatty fish
  • Limit fried foods, high fat meats, and empty calorie snacks
  • Consult a pediatrician or registered dietitian if concerned about growth or nutrition
  • Aim for a balanced, varied diet focused on whole foods

Foods to Help Meet Fat Needs

To help infants meet the recommended 30-60% of calories from fat from 0-6 months, breast milk or standard formula are the best options. No additional foods or drinks are needed.

From 6-12 months, infants can start including a variety of higher fat foods in their diet. Some examples include:

  • Avocado
  • Nut butters
  • Olive oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil
  • Fatty fish like salmon
  • Whole milk yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Cheese

These foods can be mashed, puréed, or served finger food style as the infant develops. Varying the fat sources helps ensure infants get different types of fats to support health.

6-12 Month Higher Fat Food Options

  • Avocado
  • Nut butters
  • Oils
  • Fatty fish
  • Whole milk yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Cheese

Foods to Limit for Fat

While healthy fats are important for infants, some high fat foods should be limited. These include:

  • Fried foods
  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Whole milk
  • Butter
  • Ice cream
  • Baked goods
  • Chips
  • Fast food

These foods tend to contain more saturated fat or empty calories instead of the healthier unsaturated fats. Relying too heavily on these fat sources can lead to excessive calorie intake.

Higher Fat Foods to Limit

  • Fried foods
  • Fatty meats
  • Whole milk
  • Butter
  • Ice cream
  • Baked goods
  • Chips
  • Fast food

Setting Fat Limits for Older Infants

Once infants reach 12 months, recommendations shift from percent of calories from fat to gram limits. The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for fat for 1-3 year olds is 30-40% of calories, similar to the older infant recommendation. However, the Institute of Medicine set a suggested gram range for fat intake for 1-3 year olds of 30-40g per day.

This gram limit reflects a similar percentage of calories from fat based on estimated calorie needs for toddler and preschool aged children. It allows for flexibility depending on a child’s growth, activity level, and calorie needs. The gram limit places emphasis on limiting empty calorie fat intake while encouraging healthy fat sources.

Fat Limits for Older Infants & Toddlers

  • 1-3 years old: 30-40g fat per day
  • Focus shifts from % calories to grams per day
  • Allows flexibility for varying calorie needs

Key Takeaways

Determining the right amount of fat for growing infants can be complicated. Here are some key takeaways on fat recommendations:

  • 0-6 months: 30-60% of calories from fat, met by exclusive breast or formula feeding
  • 6-12 months: 30-40% of calories from fat, include healthy fats while limiting empty calories
  • 1-3 years: 30-40g of fat per day
  • Focus on a balanced diet with emphasis on unsaturated fats
  • Consult a pediatrician or registered dietitian if concerned

Following these evidenced-based recommendations can help ensure infants get the right amount of healthy fats to support their growth and development. As infants grow into toddlers and preschoolers, continuing to focus on fat quality over quantity will set the stage for lifelong healthy eating habits.


Determining the optimal amount of fat for infants can be a confusing task for caregivers. Exclusive breast or formula feeding provides the right balance of fat for the first 6 months of life. As solid foods are introduced from 6-12 months, the focus should shift to including healthy fats from sources like fish, nut butters, and avocado while limiting fried, high fat foods. Continuing to provide 30-40g of fat from a variety of whole food sources as infants transition into toddler and preschool years can help foster healthy eating habits and adequate fat intake for their growing bodies. With guidance from reputable health organizations’ recommendations, parents and caregivers can feel confident providing the right amount of fat in infants’ diets to support their health and development.

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