Your infants and toddlers are dependent on you for their nutritional needs. Know all about the nutritional requirements, foods for their growth and balanced diet plan for children that help them to grow fast.
The human body is not the same at all ages--it changes constantly so does it nutritional requirements. An appropriate and balanced diet plan for your child is necessary as it provides adequate nutrition that is appropriate for your child age and activity.
For an infant until four to six months of age breast-feeding or bottle (infant formulas or cows milk) feeding is the source their nutrition. Newborn infants need to feed approximately every two to four hours but as they grow the feeding interval increases.
After four and six months of age, other foods can be introduced slowly as their digestive systems have become more developed. Until about the age of 1 year most infants can eat limited amount of solid or semisolid foods and milk still remains their major source of nutrition. In most places rice cereal is first food that is given to infants.
Rice is considered to be least likely to cause food allergy and besides this it is can be cooked and modified (mashed, grinded) most easily for infants to eat. Other foods which infants can eat include barley, oatmeal, strained fruits, strained vegetables, strained meats, and egg yolks. By eight to ten months of age, a child can eat more variety of foods.
Also read: Dos and Donts of Neonatal Care
Avoid crunchy or stringy foods such as nuts, popcorn, or less tender vegetables, fruits and meats as it can cause choking. As the ability of your infant to eat other foods increases he or she will rely less on milk for daily nutrition.
You doctor can guide you regarding the foods that you can give your baby.
Nutrition is important for overall health of a child, but most toddlers are fussy eaters. Toddlers can eat the family diet or the food that rest of the family eats. In this age a child needs 3 meals and 2-3 nutritious snacks each day.
Some nutritional advices for healthy growth of your child:
- Give your child a variety of foods that includes foods from all the major groups. Your child should eat whole grain products, vegetables and fruits, and animal products
- Children in this age still prefer milk but milk and dairy products should be limited to about 500 ml each day. Children up till two years of age should be given whole milk. After this give your child homogenized whole cow's milk [use low fat or skimmed milk (2-3%) instead of full cream milk] and use low fat dairy products
- Include protein rich foods like milk, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and dry beans and peas
- Children below the age of two do not need fat restriction. But in children over the age of two, fat intake should be restricted. Prefer diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol for your child older than 2 years
- Limit foods high in sugars and salt. Limit processed foods, sweetened beverages and colas
- The diet that your child eats should provide enough calcium and iron to meet his/her growing body's requirements. If needed consult your doctor for the foods that should be given at this age
Avoid foods that are round, hard, and which can not be chewed easily as choking can be a problem for children younger than 4 years. Don’t allow your child to run or play while eating as this increases the risk of choking. Encourage your child to sit in a place while eating and drinking.
Some foods on which toddlers tend to choke on include:
- Hot dogs
- Raw vegetables
- Hard candy
Pieces of food that is given to a toddler should be small so that it does not lodge in the throat.
Read more on Newborn Care.
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