By: Mir Nelofar Nazir
.Good nutrition plays a tremendous role when it comes to a baby’s growth and development.New parents always have a lot on their minds , including serving up the best foods for their babies.New born is about to go through an amazing growth spurt.Expect your baby to double his or her birth weight by about age 5–6 months and triple their birth weight by a year of age.knowing the nutritional requirements for babies 0–12 months can help parents make informed decisions about what their baby eats.Energy requirements during infancy are very high because this is one of the periods of very rapid growth.Energy requirement for infants and children of all age group are based on the principle of calculating energy requirements from total energy expenditure plus the energy needs for growth. Energy needs for growth have two components
- The energy used to synthesize growing tissues , which is part of the total energy expenditure
- The energy deposited in those tissues,basically as fat and protein, because carbohydrate content is insignificant.
Without proper nutrition, babies can have cognitive and developmental problems, or even grow up to have a weakened immune system.
This is why when it comes to baby nutrition, food that has a lot of vitamins and minerals should be a priority. The better the quality of nutrients that a baby eats, the healthier and better their growth and development get.
Babies need to be given the right type of food:
However, there’s more to a baby’s diet than just providing them with healthy foods. The food should also be appropriate for their age.
For example, newborns can only drink breast milk, but as they grow older they can start eating soft foods, and eventually they are able to eat solid foods by the time they are toddlers.
By providing the right type of food, parents can ensure that their baby can absorb all of the nutrients essential for growth.
Here are some general guidelines when it comes to the nutritional requirements for babies 0-12 months:
1.Breast milk is ideal for newborns up until 6 months (and can be continued up until the mother and their child have mutually understood that breastfeeding can stop). However, babies older than 6 months can still breastfeed along with eating solid food.
2.Breastfeeding should start immediately after birth
3.Breast milk provides all of the nutrients that a growing baby needs.
4.For mothers who are not able to breastfeed, formula milk can be an alternative. However, exclusive breastfeeding is still recommended by doctors. Please consult your doctor/pediatrician first before starting formula milk.
1.Soft/Solid food is not a replacement for Breastfeeding/Breast milk… it is only a “complement” for breastmilk.
2.Introduce soft, solid foods slowly. Wait 3-4 days before giving your child another solid food.
3.Use a small spoon when feeding your baby, and feed them only small amounts to avoid choking.
4.Don’t force your baby to finish their food, especially if they are already full.
5.At 6 to 8 months old, start with soft, mushy foods that are easily digestible.
6.For babies who are 8 to 10 months old, be sure to cut up any big chunks of food into small pieces.
7.Avoid using salt or sugar when preparing your child’s food.
What to avoid:
Newborns typically do not need to drink water, as breast milk already provides all of the water they need.
Honey should be avoided during the first year as this can cause infant botulism.
Cow’s milk should also be avoided, and not used as a substitute for breast milk.
Avoid giving solid food too early, because it may cause your child to become overweight.
Cereals with iron should be avoided until your child is 18 months old.
Key Nutrients for Growth and Development
Here is a list of the essential nutrients that can fulfill the nutritional requirements of babies 0-12 months old.
Carbohydrates are important because they provide energy that a growing baby needs. It functions as the primary energy source for babies, and it is important to make sure that they get enough carbohydrates to support their growth and development.
Newborn babies get enough carbohydrates from breast milk, but older babies can get it from rich food sources such as rice, bread, and sweet potato.
Protein is an essential nutrient that helps fulfill the nutritional requirements of babies 0-12 months old. It functions as the building blocks of muscles, and also helps build and repair tissues for the eyes, skin, heart, lungs, brain, and other organs.
Protein is also responsible for the production of hormones that are necessary for normal growth and development of babies.
Foods rich in protein include breast milk, eggs, legumes, lean meat, chicken, and fish.
For most adults, fat would not necessarily be a part of a healthy diet. But for babies, fat is an essential part of their nutrition.
Fat helps supply babies with energy, allows the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and also helps with brain development.
For the most part, breast milk and infant milk can provide the fat necessary for a baby’s growth and development. However, other sources of fat include, butter, vegetable oil, and fatty fish such as tuna and salmon.
However, it is important to limit the fat intake of babies, since it can cause problems if eaten in large amounts.
Vitamins A, D, E, C:
Vitamins A, D, E, and C are all important vitamins that help regulate body functions, and promote normal growth and development in babies.
Vitamin A helps with proper vision, healthy skin, and a healthy immune system.
Vitamin D helps with bone formation, and proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
Vitamin E helps protect vitamin A in the body, and helps prevent the breakdown of tissues.
Vitamin C helps form collagen that is essential in the development of bones, cartilage, blood vessels, and other connective tissue. It also helps with wound healing, strengthens the immune system, and helps the body absorb iron better.
These vitamins are found in breast milk, as well as fruits and vegetables. Ideally, your baby should be eating more fruits and vegetables in order to get the vitamins and minerals that they need to grow.
B vitamins include vitamin B1,B2,B6,B12, niacin, thiamine, and folate. These vitamins are essential for regulating body functions, as well as brain development.
They also help promote cell health and cell metabolism.
Just like the other vitamins, B vitamins can be found in breast milk as well as fruits and vegetables.
Both breast milk and formula provide all the calcium your baby needs for the first year. Baby-friendly, calcium-rich foods such as whole milk cheese (cheddar, muenster, Havarti, baby Swiss, Colby or Monterey Jack, for example) and whole milk yogurt, ricotta and cottage cheese are yummy, nutritious additions. Plus, they also add protein.
Omega-3 fatty acids:
Part of the family of essential fatty acids, omega-3s (including DHA), are vital for your infant’s growth, vision and optimal brain development — more than living up to their headline-making reputation as baby brain food. These fabulous fats are served up naturally in breast milk, but also are used to enrich some formulas and baby foods. Once baby’s eating repertoire expands, you can add other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish (like salmon), grass-fed meat, tofu, flaxseed, canola oil and DHA-enriched yogurt, cereal and eggs.
During the first six months of life, virtually all of a baby’s fluids come from bottle or breast — no supplementary water is usually needed. But once baby starts solids around 6 months of age, small amounts will start to come from other sources, including sips of water with meals, and juicy fruits and vegetables. As formula or breast milk intake begins to decrease, it’s important to be sure that the total fluid intake doesn’t. In hot weather, it should increase, so offer water when temperatures soar.
Zinc is a nutrient that helps promote wound healing, blood formation, and formation of protein in the body. In addition, it also helps support a growing baby’s immune system.
Good sources of zinc are breast milk, red meat, and fish, eggs, and liver.
Iron is a vital nutrient that is important when it comes to the production of red blood cells. Iron also helps prevent iron-deficiency anemia in babies.
It can be found in breast milk, formula milk, red meat, fish, liver, and legumes.
It would be best to obtain iron from these sources, rather than from supplements, because they are more readily absorbed by the body.
Author is Dietician.
Tutor/Sr.technologist at Kidney hospital sonwar Srinagar
Author can be reached at [email protected]