Every mother wants her child to be chubby and healthy and, thus, feeding the child is determined more by emotion than by scientific evaluation of the nutrient. Breast milk is the best milk for the infants but after the age of 4-6 months, breast milk alone cannot provide all nutrients required for the rapid growth of the child. We bring you an account of the right type of food for your infants.
We all know that the diet for infants has to be a balanced, wholesome diet containing all nutrients in the right amount.
It is very essential to carefully monitor the dietary requirement of an infant because if the nutritional needs are not satisfied, it can lead to problems. This can hamper the physical as well as mental growth of the child.
It is seen that in rural areas the child is generally underfed because of poverty and illiteracy whereas, many a times in urban cities, infants are overfed by over enthusiastic mothers.
Hence, under nutrition as well as over nutrition are both termed as malnutrition. In case of an under nourished child, fear of deficiency syndrome is greater and in case of an overfed child chances of developing obesity when the child grows, are more.
Infant Calorie Requirements Formula
Caloric and protein intake needs of infants are taken into account according to the age and weight. In the first few months a child puts on more weight and by the end of the first six months the weight gain starts reducing.
An infant who is active and large requires more calories than a smaller infant of the same age. It is necessary to understand that if a small baby is underweight, he or she requires more normal weight levels.
Formula for Calorie/ Protein Allowance for Infants
Age Calories/ Kg Body Weight Protein Gms/Kg Body Weight
0-3 months 120 2.22
3-6 months 115 1.88
6-9 months 110 1.63
9-12 months 105 1.44
1-2 years 115 1.25
Infant Calorie Formula
If an infant weight around 3 kg then he or she requires 3×120=360 calories/day and 3×2.22=6.66 gm of protein. This requirement will increase as per weight gain.
The main and most important food for infants is breast milk. An average infant requires about 600-700 ml of breast milk per day and it is seen that mothers on an average secrete around 450-700 ml per day during the first year. Hence, it becomes very necessary to give supplements, apart from milk, by 4 to 6 months.
In practice, the measure of the adequacy of the mother’s milk supply is a regular and sufficient increase in weight which should on an average be 120 gm per week or ½ a kg per month.
During the first 3 month, the infants should be given only breast milk. Even water should not required extra water if he is given the feed at regular interval.
Mother’s milk alone is not sufficient after the age of six months. Weaning is the process by which an infant’s milk diet is gradually changed to other cooked preparations.
The process of weaning actually starts from 3 months onwards and must definitely start from 6 months. Initially, after 3 months other liquids like vegetables and fruit juice can be introduced.
First Food for Infants
Here it is important to note that foods that are easy to digest and have mild flavor or taste should be introduced i.e. soups should be made first from vegetables like cabbage and mixed vegetables and then introduce sour tastes like tomatoes. It is important to wash and cook foods soft and mash them very well.
Initially, there is absolutely no need to add sugar, salt, or for that matter any spice to the diet. Only a little turmeric can be added. By the age of six months, the infant can digest starchy foods and soft, cooked foodstuffs like cereal grains and pulses in mashed form. Foods should be introduced of different tastes so that by the age of one year, the child can start eating everything as per the tastes of the family.
Apart from the kind of food, the way of food presentation is equally important in the sense that eating should always be a happy experience for the child. While breastfeeding, the child feels secure as he or she is always near the mother. So the process of breastfeeding should always be stopped very gradually. In fact, studies have shown that when the child takes a last feed of breast milk at night, then the child sleeps peacefully.
It is simply a myth that a healthy infant is one that is fat and chubby. On the contrary, a fat infant can be more lethargic and can remain overweight even when he or she grows up. Ideally, it is more important for an infant to remain active and alert.