Nutrition In Infants

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Everything About Nutrition In Infants

Introduction

  • When a new-born is born to the first-time parents, most of the parents are very anxious and have many doubts about the health and nutrition received by the baby.
  • They are very eager to meet their paediatrician who can satisfy their curiosity and answer all their doubts.
  • According to WHO (World Health Organisation) breast milk is the first vaccine for the new-born. We promote exclusive breast-feeding to all new-borns for the first 6 months of their life.
  • Baby is put to the mother’s breast immediately after delivery until and unless there are some risk-factors in which we must monitor the baby’s health (respiratory distress, congenital pneumonia etc.)

Also, Read: Breastfeeding as a Method of Contraception

Benefits of Breast-Feeding

  • It promotes better health for mothers and children.
  • It prevents infections like diarrheoa and acute respiratory infections in early infancy and thus reduce infant mortality.
  • It decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
  • It protects infants from obesity-related illnesses, diabetes and increases the IQ
  • Breast milk is also an important source of energy and nutrients in children aged 6–23 months. It can provide half or more of a child’s energy needs between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and one third of energy needs between 12 and 24 months. Breast milk is also a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness and reduces mortality among children who are malnourished
 

Complementary Feeding

  • Around the age of 6 months, an infant’s need for energy and nutrients starts to exceed what is provided by breast milk, and complementary foods are necessary to meet those needs. An infant of this age is also developmentally ready for other foods. 
  • start at 6 months with small amounts of food and increase gradually as the child gets older; gradually increase food consistency and variety.
  • Increase the number of times that the child is fed: 2–3 meals per day for infants 6–8 months of age and 3–4 meals per day for infants 9–23 months of age, with 1–2 additional snacks as required.
  • Use fortified complementary foods or vitamin-mineral supplements as needed
  • Continue breast feeding with complementary feeding

Also, Read: World Breastfeeding Week 2022: Importance, Benefits, and History

Common Nutrition-Related Problems in Children

  • Children’s nutritional needs differ from those of adults primarily because they are growing. Accurate assessment of growth and weight is therefore vital in determining nutritional status
  • Common nutritional problems in young children, including:
    • growth faltering (failure to thrive)
    • iron deficiency aneamia
    • rickets
    • constipation
    • food allergy
    • refusal of food

Best Advice Regarding Nutritional Feeding to Promote Infant Health

  • Always monitor the child’s weight and height in regular intervals
  • Discuss child’s feeding history, abnormal feeding behavior with pediatrician during vaccination visits
  • For gaining weight of child, increase the nutrient content of food by making it nutrient dense and adding ghee/jaggery in the food
  • Cow’s milk should be avoided before 12 months
  • Iron rich food should be given till 1yr of life (green leafy veggies, beetroots, yellow and orange fruits, black dates)
  • Vitamin D should be supplemented from birth till 1yr of life (Let child be exposed to gentle sunlight)
  • High-fibre diet containing cereal, fruits, veggies, beans, and pulses should be advised
  • Fluid-intake should be adequate according to the child’s age

Also, Read: Myths About Breastfeeding

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