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Diet in Infancy


Infancy
is a period of rapid growth. During the first year of life, the infant grows and develops far more rapidly than at any other time in life. This is evident from the fact that the totally helpless newly born child who is completely dependent on the mother or the caretaker, develops a fair degree of physical and mental abilities by the first birthday. The child develops the ability of speech and is able to express himself. He attains a fairly good motion development and starts walking and holding objects. By this time he also develops a strong emotional and psychological relationship with his near and dear ones.

DIET AND FEEDING PATTERN

To meet the high nutritional requirements of an infant, good nutrition throughout infancy is very important. The first food for the infant is mothers milk. It is nature's gift for the child and is the best suited for the infant's growth and development. Fortunately even a poorly nourished mother is able to nurse her child satisfactorily at least during the first few months of life.

ADVANTAGES OF BREAST FEEDING
Natural method of feeding
Breast feeding is a simple and a natural method of feeding which eliminates the need for preparation of a feed and sterilization of bottles. It is very convenient for both the mother and child as the milk is available at all times and at right temperature with no worries about the quantity

Nutritionally tailor made for the baby
Breast milk provides almost all the nutrients to the infant that are adequate enough to meet his requirements. It has adequate amount of fat which is highly emulsified and is therefore better digested. Lactose present in breast milk provides natural sweetness and also helps in calcium and iron absorption. Low amount of protein in mothers milk reduces pressure on infant's kidneys to excrete extra nitrogen. Vitamin C content is retained as it is not destroyed by heating which happens in case of cow's milk.

Anti-infective properties
Breast milk is a very hygienic method of feeding as the milk goes straight from the mother's breast to the child's mouth, reducing the chances of contamination and infection which are plenty in case of artificially fed infants. Breast milk contains antistaphylococcal factor which prevents the growth of bacteria in the infants intestines The gastric juice of breast fed infants is more acidic and this destroys any micro-organisms that may enter the stomach.

Source of natural immunity
The secretion from the mother's breast for the first 2 to 3 days is a thick yellowish liquid known as colostrum. This colostrum contains certain antibodies, which develop natural immunity in the child, thus protecting him from various infectious diseases. Besides providing antibodies, colostrum is also rich in certain nutrients and should never be discarded but fed to the newborn.

Anti-allergic properties
Cow's milk contains lactglobulin and serum bovine which may cause allergy in some infants. As these are not present in mother's milk, there is no danger of allergy with breast milk.

Psychological Advantages
Breast feeding is most conducive for a healthy, happy and emotional relationship between the mother and her newly born baby. 

DO YOU KNOW ?
As per documented evidence, infants grow well on exclusive breast feeding for the first 4 to 6 months of life.
During this period, the baby does not even need water supplements, as breast milk provides enough water even for the hot summer months. 
In fact water supplements may be unhygienic and also the sucking of breast by infant may be reduced thereby diminishing the breast milk output
When introducing new foods the following points to be kept in mind

  • Only one food be introduced at a time
  • Consistency of foods as per child's age i.e., for very young infants, liquid supplements should be given and gradually changed from liquid to semi-solid and then to solid with advancing age of child
  • Food to be given in small quantities in the beginning and  the amount gradually increased as child develops a liking for the food
  • Never force feed a child. If the child dislikes a particular food, remove it from his/her diet and reintroduce it at a later age. If the disliking persists then think of a substitute for it.
  • Don't give spicy foods and also avoid fried ones
  •  Include variety to make food more appealing
  • As child grows older, attract his/her attention by giving consideration to colour, flavour, texture and shape of food
  • To inculcate good eating habits in a child,  parents should not show personal prejudices and dislike towards any foods
  • It is not always necessary to cook separately for the child, as the family meals can be easily modified in consistency, spicing, etc., for the amount needed for to feed the child

Now is the time to get a Healthy, Well balanced & Nutritious Diet tailored for your infant's overall developments and good health viz the brain, height, eyesight etc., by renowned Indian Nutritionist Ms Shubi Husain
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