Pediatric Nutrition

What is pediatric nutrition?

Pediatrics is a medical branch that deals with the health and medical care of children, infants, and adolescents up to age eighteen. pediatrics means the healing of children. And nutrition is a critical part of health and development. Thus, pediatric nutrition consists of the necessary dietary requirements for infants and children to aid in their growth and development.

Its importance

Pediatric nutrition is important for physical and mental health, strong immune systems, and the overall nutrition and development of children. Pediatric nutrition is important as diet plays a significant role in growth and development, with both short-term and long-term effects. Good and efficient nutrition protects children from infectious, chronic, and digestive diseases.

Breastfeeding is considered a necessary activity that mothers undertake. They shall breastfeed infants, as it has a relatively better impact on the overall health of the child. The antibodies in breastmilk are an optimal mix of protein, vitamins, and fat. Pediatric nutrition helps to curb problems of inadequate meals, unhealthy cravings, loss of appetite, vitamin deficiencies, raised cholesterol levels, anaemia, iron deficiency, and orthopaedic problems.

Pediatric nutrition helps in developing strong bones and muscles, ensuring enough intake of vitamins and minerals, good concentration, and better learning. It is also vital, as malnutrition or poor nutrition is a leading cause of child mortality. As per the scientific data available, around 45% of infant mortality across the world is due to malnutrition. Poor nutrition can also cause several childhood diseases.

What are the necessary vitamin and mineral intakes?

To provide proper nutrition, it is important to make appropriate and adequate choices. And to make the proper choices, people must know the nutritional requirements. There is a specific recommended dietary allowance (RDA), taken from the Dietary Reference Intakes Report. The RDA has prescribed carbohydrate, protein, and fat intakes for children and young children.

Thus, you shall consult your healthcare provider to decide on the necessary vitamins and mineral intake, which generally are Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Biotin, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc, and Iron.

Solid Foods

Introducing and consuming solid foods is an important step in pediatric nutrition. It ensures that there is holistic growth in the required way. There is an appropriate age to start solid foods, and it depends on the needs and readiness of the infant. Usually, a child does not need solid food until the age of six months. They develop tongue and mouth movements in four months.

Feeding solid food before the appropriate age can affect the feeding habits of the child. It also leaves an impact on the personality of the child, as per the theories of Sigmund Freud. As the child grows older than six months, breastfeeding is usually replaced by a bottle or cup of fruit juice or milk.

Then, the feeding of solid food is introduced, and it continues up to 1.5 or 2 years old. Healthcare providers and pediatricians recommend initiating a full diet of solid foods and fluids by cup after turning 2 years old. As per an infant’s tolerance, it is recommended to feed them with spoons.

Adequate intakes of fruits, vegetables, grains, and cereals ensure that infants receive all the required vitamins and minerals. However, commercial baby foods might not always be a good idea as they are high in starch, calories, inadequate vitamin or mineral values, or high in cellulose. These items are not properly digested by infants. Thus, be careful to read the ingredients and do not forget to consult your health care provider regarding the same.

What are the complications involved?

There might be complications or undesired objectives if the feeding is not done appropriately. Excessive feeding during the early years of life can lead to obesity. Also, when both parents are obese, it becomes important to monitor and control the weight gain because, in such a scenario, there is an 80% chance of the child becoming obese.

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1. What does a child’s denial of eating some particular type of food or craving for unhealthy food indicate?

Such denial of healthy food and craving for tasty, unhealthy food is an indication of improper nutrition. It means the child does not have a proper diet.

2. How can you ensure that there is proper pediatric nutrition intake?

You can ensure proper pediatric nutrition if there is a strong immune system, a healthy metabolism, and good physical health.

3. What are the nutritional advantages of breastmilk?

Breastmilk has several nutritional advantages that aid in growth. A distinct advantage is the pH of stools and the intestinal flora, which protect children from bacterial diarrheic.

4. Does pediatric nutrition help in ensuring good cognitive functioning?

Pediatric nutrition helps improve a child's activity levels and helps ensure good cognitive functioning.

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