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Armor yourself with ample energy to welcome your little bundle of joy to the proactive infant world. Infants, in their precious first two years of life, are marked by speedy physical and social growth throughout the body. The type of food fed to infants is a definite indicator of their synergy with the surrounding. A well-nourished infant given nutritious and healthy food is a sure sign of an active, energetic and open-minded baby eager to explore things around it.
There are quite a few factors that determine an infant’s growth rate. An infant with a large genetic background reaches its growth channel by 6th month. A child born large with a genetic background that is determined to be small takes its time of 13 months to reach its growth channel. Infants born below the 10th percentile do not attain their growth channel up to 1 year.
The table below lists three types of genetic background which determines child
Determined age to attain height
A normal infant loses weight in the first couple of days and regains it by the 7th to 10th day. The infant weighs two times its birth weight by 4 to 6 months and at the time of its first birthday it should ideally triple its birth weight. The weight gained by the child at the end of it’s second birthday should proximate its birth weight. The kidney of a newborn, though functional, is not fully grown and reaches term by one year. Don’t be troubled if your little one often cries for milk. Infants have a very tiny stomach whose capacity increases at the end of the first year, wherein they consume less frenquently and eat more.
Nutrient Needs of Infants
The nutrient intake of an infant mirrors the newborn’s cognitive and physical growth and also shows the energy used by the baby in an activity of its liking.
A nominal growth in length indicates sufficient energy intake by a newborn. Any loss in weight or decrease in the rate at which an infant gains weight is a sure warning to check the energy levels of the kid. If the infant shows stunted growth in length or stops to grow altogether, it’s time to visit your doctor to get a test done for any undetected disease or dietary deficiency. Also be conscious of accelerated weight gain compared to gain in length of the child. This situation may arise in formula-fed infants whose calorie content of energy is more than breast-fed infants. Reducing the powder quantity, making the formula milk less concentrated and reevaluating the other foods offered are definite steps to be taken.
Proteins, essential for growth and tissue replacement, demand a higher intake by the infants than the rest of the population. Breast-fed infants require about 15% lower protein consumption formula-fed ones. Once the child crosses its 6th month, breast-fed infants require supplements like yogurt, strained meat or cereal with milk along with mother’s milk for maintained protein levels in the body.
Lipids and Carbohydrates
The recommended levels of lipid intake are met by both human milk and formula milk. Infants feeding on skimmed milk have inadequate energy levels due to lower fat intake. Carbohydrates contribute to 30% to 60% of the energy intake in an infant.
Water lost naturally from skin and lungs and in feces and urine or due to health conditions like vomiting and diarrhea are contributing factors for reduced water levels in the newborn. Even hot humid environments make children feel more thirsty. These factors decide the water intake of the newborn.
Infants require Calcium, Iron, Zinc and Fluoride which are present in human milk and formula milk. Iron content in human or formula milk, better than whole milk, is good enough for babies up to their 4th or 6th month. Foods like iron-fortified cereals and infant formula replenish for the deficit iron after 6 months.
Formula-fed infants have all the required vitamins. Breast-fed infants lack Vitamin D whose only source is sunlight. Infants feeding on cow’s milk lack Vitamin C whereas newborns drinking goat’s milk lack Vitamin D, Vitamin C and folate. Any vitamin or mineral supplement should be suggestion after careful evaluation of the infant’s intake and exposure to sunlight.
Milk for Infants
Breast-fed milk is the best possible food to be given to the baby. Infants fed with mother’s milk are more attached with their mums and primarily protected from infections. Global public health recommendations advise for exclusive breast feeding of the newborn up to their 6th month. Formula-milk becomes important for children when the new mum is unwilling or unable to feed. These formulas replicate the nutrient contents available in human milk as closely as possible. Yet another option is soy-based food when the child is allergic to cow’s milk-based formula. Although many mothers shift to cow’s milk between the infant’s 5th to 9th months, it is prescribed to avoid feeding cow’s milk until the child completes one year due to its different composition. Make note that breast-fed and formula-fed infants rarely require additional nutrients from supplements. Whatever the food given to an infant maybe, always sustain a reasonable level of sanitation.
Foods for Infants
Myriad commercial baby foods and organically grown products with different nutrient values are available for infant use. Cereal is generally the first outside food added to an infant’s diet. Strained fruits and vegetables packed with carbohydrates and Vitamin C and strained meats rich in protein, iron and energy are excellent weaning foods to start with.
Feeding the Infant
Once your little one is born, it is necessary that the newborn is breast-fed immediately. This milk called as colostrums, a yellow transparent fluid, meets the infant’s nutrient needs during the first week. Pamper, hug and cuddle your little ones while feeding them. This establishes a strong bond between the mother and the child. A well-satisfied baby sleeps and plays well and is rarely fussy. Experiment with your bambino’s taste buds with pureed foods that can be given during the first 4 months as they are in the same liquid state as milk. Between the 4th and 6th month, the baby can be introduced to strained foods. Rather than the sequence in which these foods are introduced it is important to always introduce the baby to one new food at a time. This helps to detect any allergies or intolerances to the food given. As the oral —motor skills improve the child can be slowly introduced to biscuits, vegetables and fruits. Children must be encouraged to feed by themselves. Parents can instill this habit in them by chopping the veggies or fruits into small spoon-friendly cubes. Also take care to avoid serving plateful of foods to little children. The less you serve, the more interested the child becomes to eat more of the food. Do not force-feed the child. Instead, patiently listen to your child’s reasons for refusing the food offered. A snack or juice before mealtime, fatigue or inactivity may be reasons for refusal. Don’t be surprised to find your child sitting at the table well before the next meal. Allowing the toddler to skip his/her meal makes the child automatically hungry for the next one. Always make it a point for the entire family to come together for a meal at the table. This is a great opportunity for the child to learn table manners and also to make his/her dining experience a fun-filled pleasant activity.
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Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz of First Eat Right clinic, is the Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Bangalore. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Pune. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Hyderabad. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Chennai. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Mumbai. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Delhi. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Kolkata.