What Does Zinc Do?

A child eating from a spoon

Children need zinc to grow and develop. Zinc is a mineral that is important for immune function, wound healing, and the senses of smell and taste.

When Does My Child Need Zinc? And How Much?

Zinc is important at all stages of your child’s development. When your child is about 6 months old, you can start giving solid foods with zinc to your child.
Children 7 to 24 months need 3 mg of zinc each day.

Once My Child Starts to Eat Solid Foods, How Can I Make Sure My Child Gets Enough Zinc?

It is important to choose foods that contain zinc. Examples of foods with zinc include:

  • Zinc-fortified grains (for example, zinc-fortified infant cereals)
  • Meats (for example, beef or pork)
  • Dairy (for example, yogurt or cheese)
  • Fish (for example, flounder)
  • Shellfish (for example, oysters or crab)
  • Legumes (for example, beans)

Foods with zinc are especially important for babies who are fed only breast milk. Levels of zinc in breast milk are high after birth and go down over the first 6 months. After 6 months, it is important to introduce foods with zinc to meet nutritional needs.

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