Child Nutritional health
Child Nutritional Health
Nutrition plays a significant role in the development of children. Without proper nutrition, the child's body will not have the required nutrients to grow, develop and defend itself against diseases.
The nutrition of newborns – Infant nutrition
Infancy is the period between birth to 2 years of age. During the first six months, breastmilk exclusive is sufficient to meet the child’s nutritional needs. It contains essential nutrients but only lacks Vitamin D. Here’s a quick reminder…if you are exclusively breastfeeding, it is important to give your infant Vitamin D drops daily. Many do not know the fact that breastmilk changes at different stages of development. During the first week, the milk will have high concentrates of protein along with immunizing factors, and a lower concentration of fat. The milk during the first week is called colostrum.
From day 8-20, the mother begins to produce transitional milk. It contains higher amounts of fat, lactose, and water-soluble vitamins. The overall energy content or caloric content will be higher than colostrum.
From day 21 until weaning, the mother produces mature milk. 90% of mature milk is comprised of water. The remaining 10% carries all the nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, protein, etc.
Nutrition for child After 6 months
After the first 6 months after birth, the child can start to have solid foods in low amounts. The period where the child gets breastmilk as well as complimentary food is known as weaning. There are two types of weaning – baby-led weaning and traditional weaning.
During weaning, the mothers can start to give their child nutritious food that adults eat. This is the first introduction of the child to solid food. Since it is their first experience, they may take some time to process the different taste textures.
The introduction of solid food after 6 months is a necessity the child’s body will require nutritional needs beyond what can be supplied by just breastmilk. Here is a general list of foods that you can provide to children after 6 months:
Cereals: Cooked cereals are often soft and malleable. They provide the child with carbohydrates, fibers, and other nutrients. Rice, oats, or baby cereal are great options.
Fruits: Soft fruits like avocado, banana, peach, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, etc. are always the recommended choices. Cut the fruit into small pieces before feeding. This also goes for small round food as not chopping or cutting them can increase the chances of choking.
Vegetables: Boiled and cooled vegetables are a great place to start. Some of the best vegetables to introduce to your child are butternut squash, broccoli, carrot, potato, pumpkin, etc. The vegetables must be squashed to pureed before feeding.
Protein: You can also introduce them to food like hard-boiled eggs, meat without bones, fish without bones, lentils or beans. Always make sure that they are cooked properly.
How to know if your child is ready to have solid foods
The 6-months mark is a general guideline when it comes to weaning. However, it is not a true indicator that every baby will be ready at that time. Here are some of the telltale signs that your baby is ready for solid foods.
- They begin to sit upright
- They have good head control
- They will start to exhibit good hand-eye coordination
- Gets excited when adults eat
- They tend to pick up food and put it in their mouth
What signs should not be mistaken for the baby’s readiness for solid food
- Chewing fists
- Wanting extra milk feeds
- Waking up at night
Note: It is better not to introduce the child to salty food. Too much salt can harm the baby's kidneys. They will get the required amount of salt through breastmilk itself.
Child Nutrition: From 6 months to 12 months
When your baby is nearing his/her first birthday, they should be having three meals a day. Breastfeeding should be continued with supplementary foods.
Child Nutrition: From 12 months to 1 year
Now you can increase the meals from 3 to 4 times a day. You can start giving your child milk as a drink along with all types of adult food. Full-fat dairy products are encouraged from this period and you can slowly withdraw the child from infant formula if it was used in place of breastmilk.
Child Nutrition: From 1 to 2 years
At the end of the second year, you can slowly stop breastfeeding and provide the child with just adult meals. Make sure that you give balanced meals comprising of fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, meat, etc. The baby will slowly start to become very active at this age so the food requirements will also increase.
Child Nutrition: From 2 to 3 years
Children become more advanced in the development of motor skills. By the end of the third year, they will be able to run, dress, climb on chairs, etc. They are certainly “on the go” and will need 1000 to 1400 calories per day. This can be achieved just from the food that they eat daily. Intermittent snacks are also a good choice to keep up their energy levels.
The first three years from birth is a crucial period for the child as well for the parents. Eating habits begin to develop and proper nutrition is of utmost importance because of their growth rate. It can be frustrating for parents at time and this is certainly natural.
What you need is a helping hand to guide you through the whole process. At Bee Well El Paso Pediatrics, we provide comprehensive care for our patients. Dr. Howze will help you understand the complexities and show you the best parenting practices. Call, text us or use our website to book an appointment today! Let us help in keeping the community of El Paso well!
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