The Different Stages of Children’s Nutrition – Infant to Toddlers

There are few duties a parent holds as important as ensuring their child gets proper nutrition. There isn’t any other factor more important than proper nutrition when it comes to the healthy growth and development of your child, which makes it important to have as extensive a base of knowledge on the subject as possible.

One crucial element of children’s nutrition you must understand are the three different nutritional stages your child will move through during their first months and years.

Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding

The first decision you will need to make is whether to breastfeed your child, or to give them formula. Infant formula has a number of benefits cited over breast milk, but most of those benefits are concessions to convenience. It’s easier to feed your child formula as anyone will be able to feed your child, even when you aren’t around. Formula is also helpful for the very small percentage of women who are unable to breastfeed, and for adopted babies. Formula is also a necessity if the baby’s mother has certain diseases that can be transmitted through her milk.

However, aside from convenience formula offers little to no benefit over breast milk. Nutritionally speaking breast milk is superior to formula, and it is also easier for babies to digest. Unlike formula, breast milk also features a wide variety of elements that support and strengthen a baby’s immune system. Breast milk is also cheaper than formula, as it is free, and can be pumped and bottled to provide convenience in feeding.

childrens nutritionIf you choose to breastfeed, and most experts suggest you do, it’s important that you eat as healthy as possible, as the nutritional quality of breast milk is directly related to the mother’s diet.

Introducing Solid Foods

Most babies will be ready to eat solid foods by the time they are 6 months old. Many babies are able to start eating solid foods earlier, around the 4 month mark, but as long as your baby is eating solid foods by 6 months they are on track.

There are a number of cues to look out for that will let you know your baby is ready to start on solid foods. They need to have the ability to keep their head steady. They need to stop pushing food out of their mouth with their tongue. They need to be able to sit up reasonably well on their own without much external support, and they will likely start to try and mimic your eating.

Baby food makes a good choice for infants who are just starting to consume solid foods, though you will have to make the choice between making your own baby food and buying jars from the store. In general fresh baby food made at home will be more nutritious than store-bought meals, but inconvenience will be considerably greater. Overall, what matters is that you feed your baby enough food of the highest quality possible. For many people, that means a mixture of home-made food and the highest quality store bought food available to them.

The Toddler Years

While your infant is likely to be a food-devouring machine, when your child reaches the toddler years they are likely to become a picky eater. Not only will they start to develop particular tastes and preferences for what they like to eat, your child will also eat considerably less. This is especially true when it comes to food frequency. It’s very common among toddlers to only eat one large meal a day, and to only fuss a bit with any other meal you feed them (without eat much or any of it). This is perfectly normal, and as long as your child’s rate of growth remains constant and within normal parameters there is no need to worry about their changing nutritional habits.

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