INFANT DIET/WEANING FOODS
Infancy is a period of rapid growth. During the first year of life, the infant grows and develops far more rapidly than any other time in life. A normal infant doubles his birth weight by the age of five months and triples the birth weight by the age of one year. There is increase in the length of the infant from 50cm at the time of birth to about 75cm during the first year of life. There are changes in body composition, gastrointestinal system, excretory system, mental development.
To meet the high nutritional requirements of an infant, good nutrition throughout the infancy is very important. The first food for the infant is mother’s milk. Documented evidence has shown that infants grow well on exclusive breast feeding for first 4-6 months of life. During this period, the baby does not even need water supplements, as breast milk provides enough water even for the hot summer months. Nutritional requirements for infants have largely been based on breast milk intakes of well nourished population combined with contributions from supplements introduced into the child’s feeding regime from 4-5 months of age, as mother’s milk is not sufficient after that.
Breast milk has several advantages over tinned milk or infant milk powder formulations. If the mother is not able to breast feed the child due to many reasons, then cow’s milk is a better substitute since its composition is closest to breast milk.
Colostrum is the milk secreted during the first 3-5 days after the child-birth before the formation of true milk. It has several advantages. It contains less fat and lactose than mature milk and more sodium, chlorine and zinc. It is high in antibody rich protein especially IgA and lactoferrin. The proportion of PUFA is much higher. So it should be not discarded rather it should be feed to the baby.
It is the process of gradually introducing foods other than breast milk in the feeding schedule. This process starts when any food besides mother’s milk is introduced in the child’s diet and is completed only when the child has been entirely put off the breast. It is started after 6 months with fruit juices, soups and proceeds towards more filling, nutritious and bulky diets like cereals cooked in milk or water, egg, starchy vegetables and fruits as the child grows older. It basically proceeds from liquid to semisolid to solid.
Weaning foods based on cereal-pulse-nut and sugar/ jaggery combinations will provide good quality protein, adequate calories and other protective nutrients. Since infants cannot consume bulky complementary food, in sufficient quantities, energy-rich foods like fats and sugars should be included in such preparations.
Infants can also be fed green leafy vegetables, which are rich, yet inexpensive, sources of vitamins and minerals. However, greens should be well cleaned before cooking lest the infants develop loose motions. Dietary fiber in green leafy vegetables can, by itself, promote the bowel movements leading to loose motions in infants. Since GLVs are rich in dietary fiber, it is advisable to initially feed only the juice of the GLVs after cooking them properly. Infants should be introduced to different vegetables and fruits gradually. It should, however, be remembered that these dietary articles should be thoroughly cooked and mashed before feeding. In families which can afford egg yolk and meat soup can be introduced. At about one year of age, the child should share the family diet.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
Only one food should be introduced at a time.
Consistency of the food should be according to the child’s age.
Food should be given in small amounts and amount should gradually be increased.
The child’s food should not be spicy.
Variety should be introduced.
Color, flavor, texture and shape of the food should be given special considerations.
Here at NUTRIDIETS, we will help you to plan a customized diet that is suitable for your special needs in different phases of lifecycle taking into consideration your eating habits and lifestyle. It is because some stages in lifecycle like pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood nutrition, and elderly nutrition demand special dietary changes and nutritional requirements and following our diet plans, you will be eating healthy according to your needs.
Join us, avail our nutrition packages and together we will make your life happier and healthier.