Baby Nutrition Basics
Author: Melissa Lahti
June 27, 2013
From birth to 2 years is a critical time for growth and development. If a baby is not getting the nutrients it needs it can lead to immediate and long term consequences such as, delayed motor and mental development and even things like intellectual performance, reproductive outcomes, and the overall health in adolescence and adulthood.
Feeding an infant is simple; they receive all the nutrients they need from formula or breast milk. Breast milk contains the best nutrients for the baby and it is recommended that you breastfeed exclusively for at least six months at which time you can gradually start supplementing with solid food. You should not take a baby off formula or breast milk before they are a year old. After a year it is fine to start introducing cow’s milk to the child but I personally breastfed my children for longer than that.
You may find it necessary to start the baby on cereal before six months if the milk doesn’t seem to be enough. You should start off simple on iron fortified semi-liquid rice cereal. If it’s easier, you can mix a small amount in the baby’s bottle and it will help to keep the baby full longer. Around six months of age a baby’s natural iron source is depleted and it is good to give them things that are iron fortified to avoid getting iron deficiency anemia. But don’t worry about this too much, there are many vegetables that contain iron and if you are giving your baby a variety of veggies, they will be just fine. I was never concerned about buying iron fortified foods and I never had a child that was anemic.
As you gradually introduce solid foods, they will slowly become a part of a baby’s nutrient intake. You should start out simple and slowly. Only introduce one new kind of food at a time to determine any allergies a baby may have. If you give a baby more than one kind of food and they have a reaction, you will not be able to tell which food the baby is allergic to.
In children under two years of age, dietary fats help the formation of vital nerve and brain tissues. For this reason you should never give your one year old any reduced fat foods. They should be drinking whole milk and eating dairy products that are not fat free or reduced fat.
Bottom line is, stay calm and follow your instincts. As long as you care for your child and are trying to be a good parent, they will be fine and will grow up to be healthy children.