The Importance of Infant Nutritional Habits
Infant nutrition is the description of a proper diet of infants which is rich in all nutrients required by the growing child. During the first few months, a diet lacking any essential nutrients, vitamins, calories, or fluids is believed to be insufficient. Breast milk supplies the best nutritional diet for these early months when compared to infant bottle-feeding. However, bottle-feeding can provide the baby with necessary nutrients through the mother’s breast milk for the first six months. For the first two years, the formula is widely used as the primary feeding method.
In certain countries like the US and Canada
infant nutrition is usually provided through government agencies such as the Indian Health Service or Indian Parents Association. Both of these organizations work towards promoting breastfed baby care by disseminating guidelines and resources. These organizations also conduct camps and courses on infant nutrition, breastfeeding, and the mother’s role in feeding her baby. These programs help the mother learn how to breastfeed her baby daily.
In the first year
it is very important to provide adequate quantities of vitamins, minerals, and fluids to infants. Folic acid, iron, and certain B vitamins are especially recommended in this period. The main cause of Vitamin D deficiency in infants is insufficient exposure to sunlight. Babies can obtain vitamin D through food sources, but breast milk does not suffice for the baby to absorb vitamin D naturally.
In the third trimester of pregnancy
when the baby is full and has received the necessary nourishment, the mother should begin infant nutrition. It is important to start protein and calcium intake through breast milk. In certain countries, infant formulas are available. It is recommended to combine these with breast milk, as formula often lacks certain ingredients necessary for lifelong health. It is also not recommended to give solid foods to the baby before he is 6 months old, as solid foods can alter the baby’s digestion and create health problems for him.
Infant nutrition continues throughout the first year
and into the third year of life. However, if the mother breastfeeds her baby, the infant should be fed with infant formulas only after a complementary feed (mainly breast milk) has been provided for at least six months. Breastfeeding is generally the best dietary pattern for childhood, and researchers have found that breastfed infants tend to be healthier than bottle-fed ones.
Breastfed babies tend to grow up to be taller
and more robust than bottle-fed ones, and they consume less junk food. Formal studies have revealed that children of mothers who initiated breast milk feeding early in their infancy had better nutritional status than those who were breastfed after reaching two years of age. Further studies are ongoing in this area.