Up until 12 months of age the dietary needs of a child are rather different to those required after this age. In fact, after a child reaches one year of age, whole milk may replace formula feeding. Children under the age of one year should not be given whole milk as it has been shown that this can cause low blood cell counts. However, it may be given in small quantities via foods such as cheeses (including cottage cheese) and yogurt.
A one year old child should receive most of its nourishment from meat, fruit and vegetables, breads and cereals, and dairy group, especially whole milk.
Children under the age of 2 years do not require low-fat milk (2%, 1%, or skim); in fact at this age they need the extra calories from fat to ensure growth and development.
A good variety of foods will help to ensure enough vitamins and minerals. Children of this age do not grow as quickly as in the past, so their nutritional needs may be proportionately reduced. Infants and children usually eat only small amounts at a time, but eat frequently (4-6 times) throughout the day, so the use of snacks is strongly encouraged.
Food Intolerances in Infants
Just like adults, so too can children develop food intolerances. Food allergies affect the immune system and symptoms such as heaving and sweating follow. Whilst DNA testing can help determine the body’s ability to process certain foods, this type of genetic analysis is not recommended for infants. You can however, rely on the fact that around 90% of allergies are caused by foods such as eggs, peanuts, tree nuts or fish. This should help you easily locate the culprit and eliminate it from the child’s diet. If you child does appear to be having an allergic reaction, call emergency immediately, even if the allergy does not appear severe. Many allergies are in fact nothing to worry about and will be dealt with by the child’s immune system, you however, want to ensure you have the right medical care at hand should the reaction be a bit more severe.
Diets for Older children
During childhood and adolescence, it is important that the diet includes a variety of foods for proper development. After two years, it is recommended that the diet has a moderately low content of fat, as diets high in fat can contribute to heart disease, obesity and other health problems later in life. A diet that contains a variety of foods from each of the basic food groups (breads and cereals, meat, fruit and vegetables and milk) will help prevent nutritional deficiencies. In areas where water is not fluoridated, fluoride supplementation is recommended.
It is not recommended to start too early with solid nutrition. Introduce only one new food at a time. Check for allergic reactions (hives, vomiting, diarrhea). If your child does not like the new food, give it a try again later. Avoid bringing honey in a newborn, as it may contain spores that cause botulism and the. immune system of a baby is not developed enough to fight this disease.
The containers of foods of the child opened must be sealed and stored in a refrigerator for no more than two days.
• Use a small spoon to feed the baby.
• Avoid foods that may cause choking – popcorn, nuts, potato chips, whole corn, berries, grapes, hot dogs, raw vegetables, raisins, dry cereal flakes.
- You can give water between feedings.
- It ‘not recommended feeding sweets or sugary drinks, because they ruin the appetite and contribute to tooth decay.
- Avoid salt, sugar and strong spices.
- Avoid products with caffeine (soda, coffee, tea, chocolate).