A healthy diet for young children
As per a recent study, guidelines have been issued describing what children should be fed with during the first year of life. What may be a healthy diet for young children?
Babies should only be fed with mother’s milk or formula. Water may be added to the diet in the sixth month. Infants receiving formula can be switched to cow milk after twelve months. Soy milk is a preferred alternative for those, who don’t want to consume cow milk.
Importance of ideal diet for young children below 12 months.
Guidelines for a healthy diet for young children during the first four months.
Solid food generally is not be given to young children below 4 months. Unless advised by your healthcare provider. The solid food is not given due to the following reasons:-
- Mother milk or infant formula provides enough nutrients, that are needed for the growth of your child.
- Your baby is not physically developed to consume food in solid form.
- Early feeding of solid food may lead to overfeeding and overweight. Which are not good for your child’s health.
- Consumption of solid food may lead to the problem of sleeping for your child.
Feeding guidelines for young children.
The following suggestions may be taken into consideration while feeding your child.
While starting solid food for your child. It is suggested to give one food at a time. The mixture of several foods should be avoided. Give one food for two-three days to see that the food is being properly digested by your child and is not causing any allergy. Start with small amounts. And gradually increase the quantity as per your child’s appetite.
In general, people start with infant cereal. It is advisable to pick single grain, iron riched, whole-grain variety. And then add gradually fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
While making homemade baby food. Avoid adding salt or sugar. Canned foods may contain added sugars or salts. Therefore canned foods should not be used while making baby food.
For healthy growth, your child needs calories, fats, and cholesterol. Therefore their intake should not be limited unless advised by your child healthcare provider.
Babies below six months of age should not be fed with homemade spinach, green beans, squash, or carrots. As they may contain large amounts of nitrates. Which may cause a blood disorder (methemoglobinemia). That can interfere with the delivery of oxygen to the tissues through the blood.
To your children above six months and old. Fruit juice without adding sugar may be given. But it is not a necessary part of your child’s diet. While feeding vegetables or fruits. Wash them properly and remove seeds and their pits. Young children should drink less than a cup of 100% juice per day. Excessive juice consumption may lead to tooth decay and unhealthy weight gain and is linked to poor nutrition. children do not need juice, consuming fruit in place is the best alternative. For more reading – Vegetables- The ultimate source of Nutrition and Protection. <<= Please click.
For healthy growth, your child does not need to drink water during the initial months. Once the child starts taking solid food. Water can be given. Consult your child’s healthcare provider about giving additional fluids to your child during the day.
Children aged five and under should not be given any drink with sugar or other sweeteners, including low calorie or artificially sweetened beverages, chocolate milk or other flavored milk, caffeinated drinks, and toddler formulas. plant-based beverages like almond, rice, or oat milk should also be avoided.
Give small feeds at regular and fixed intervals. Your baby’s growth slows down around one year of age. Avoid stressing to clean the plate even if your child is not hungry. This may lead to overeating and disturbed sleeping.
Cow milk should not be added to the diet of your children until 12 months of age. As it does not provide the required nutrients to your baby. Soy milk is a preferred alternative for those, who don’t want to consume cow milk. Formulas marketed for toddlers is not a necessity since most toddlers eat solid food.
What foods can be added to the diet after 6 months?
Solid foods may be added to the diet after six months of age. Food that is easily digestible, safe, healthy, and nutritious is recommended. Following few options (Indian diet) may be considered.
- Fruits:- Avocado, Apple, Pear, Banana, muskmelon, Peaches, Plums, Prune, etc.
- Vegetables:- Pumpkin, Sweet potato, Carrot, etc
- Cereals and grains:- Rice, Ragi, Barley, Semolina/ Suji/ Rava, Quinoa, Sabudana/ Sago/ Topioca, etc.
- Pulses:- Moong dal (yellow)
- Dairy:- Ghee, Butter ( in moderation)
- Non- Vegetarian:- None
How much quantity of food for a six-month-old baby?
The appetite varies from baby to baby. Most babies change from day-to-day. But in general following quantity may be given depending upon your baby’s appetite.
- Two tablespoons of cereal to start with. Gradually it may be increased to 1/4 cup.
- One tablespoon of fruit or veg puree. Gradually increase to four tablespoons.
Please take good care of your child for a healthy future.
(For awareness purpose only).
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