A proper and balanced diet is offering an adequate amount of nutrients, in appropriate proportions, and should be perfectly adapted to the age and the stage of development of the child. A healthy diet is a key to ensuring a harmonious somatic growth and development, but also mental and emotional developments. A proper diet plays a crucial role in improving the quality of life, maintaining a good state of health and increasing the average duration of life, but how to feed kids in order to offer them the best dietary nutrients according to their age’s needs.
How to feed kids of below 6 months old ?
Diet experts recommend that in the first 6 months of life, infants diet should be based mainly, or even exclusively, on milk (breast milk), or formula milk which is supplemented with the necessary nutrients.
In breastfed infants, breastfeeding is either on demand (babies cry or become anxious when they are hungry), or every 2 or 4 hours, for 8 to 12 times per day. Until the 4th month of their lives, the infants will gradually reduce the number of feedings to 4 to 6 times per day, but, overall, the amount of milk to be consumed will increase.
Infants fed with formula milk will need to be fed 6 to 8 times per day, starting with a quantity of 60 to 150 g of product at each meal, which leads to a total of 480 to 1050 g during the whole day. As with breastfed babies, those fed artificially will also gradually reduce the number of meals but will increase the amount consumed each time to about 180 to 240 g.
Experts recommend feeding babies with breast milk it, as the process of breastfeeding itself offers some benefits, for both the child and the mother:
- ensures the ideal proportions and diversity of nutrients (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins)
- it is easy to digest and can be entirely assimilated by the babies bodies
- improves the immune system function, therefore breastfed infants rarely develop infections such as ear infections, colds, or flues
- breastfed baby is less likely to become overweight or obese
Solid and semi-solid foods can be introduced into infant nutrition starting with the 4th month of life, but parents need to be cautious. It is not recommended the early introduction of honey into the infant diet. Also, the infant’s diet must be strictly controlled in terms of the amount of salt consumed, because the infant’s kidneys are not yet able to regulate the salt and water balance. Sugar should not be introduced at this age, being preferable that the sugars be assimilated from vegetables sources or fruits.
Parents can try feeding their above 4 months old baby with special cereals with iron supplements, mixed with breast milk or formula milk. The consistency of this mixture can be increased gradually, as the child becomes able to properly and efficiently control the swallowing. This combination can be offered 2 times/day, but in small quantities to be comprised of 1-2 tablespoons of dry cereal. As the child gets used, this amount may be increased to 3-4 tablespoons of cereal.
Other foods that pediatricians recommend are:
- cheese in combination with rice
- mashed vegetables(after age 5 months)
- hard-boiled egg yolks
How to feed kids from between 6 and 12 months old?
From the age of 6 or 8 months, the infant is able to chew food, to sit without support, to catch and grasp things in his hand.
-During this period, breast milk or formula milk must be maintained in the diet and must be administered 3 to 5 times per day.
-Consumption of breast milk or formula milk will gradually diminish as the solid food will become the majority in the diet.
-From 6 months up more and more fruits and vegetables should be introduced in the kid’s daily diet.
-They must be integrated gradually into the diet, leaving the child about 2 or 3 days to get used to them, while parents can track how the -baby’s body responds to them. Issues such as the occurrence of gastrointestinal symptoms or allergies might appear.
Among the first vegetables that can be consumed and which seem to be accepted by most infants are:
Among the most accepted fruits by kids of above 6 months old are:
After 6 months of age, the fruits and the vegetables, but also the grains, should be included in the diet because of their high content of nutrients and carbohydrates.
You should avoid foods that are too salty, or too sweet. The baby may be allowed to eat only soft cooked vegetables, peeled fruits, such as bananas, peaches, small pieces of graham crackers, and pasta. During this time you can introduce into your baby’s diet special foods that improve healthy growth of teeth, such as toast, crackers, or pretzels. From the 8th month of life, your baby can try boiled and shredded chicken or fish. Initially, 30 g per day, 4 times per week should be enough.
Other dietary recommendations include eating:
- chicken liver (after 6 months)
- homemade biscuits
After 8 months, your kid’s diet may still contain milk or milk formulas for 3 to 4 times per day, but meat is the main source of protein and iron, and it can be introduced in gradually increasing amounts, boiled, mashed or chopped. As regarding the vegetables, fruits is recommended at least 3 or 4 tablespoons for 4 times per day. The kid may also be fed with cheese or creams.
Up to 1 year of age, most children have already abandoned the child’s bottle. After 9 months of age, fruits and vegetables can be diversified by introducing kiwi, spinach, peppers, lettuce, dill, or parsley. Experts recommend avoiding fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, strawberry (due to possible allergies). The excess of apples, pears or plums may cause diarrhea.
How to feed kids of over 1 year old ?
Children’s diet plays a decisive role in terms of health status, reflected in the harmonious growth and development, both physical and mental, in accordance with the children’s age. Diet must be always adapted to the caloric needs of the kids.
A healthy balanced diet is based on all types of healthy food, and since the age of 1 year and a half, children may have the same menu as the adults, but with differences in quantity of food consumed and the number of meals.
After the age of 2 years, doctors impose restrictions in terms of the lipid content in the diet. A high-calorie diet may be associated starting from this age with an increased risk of obesity, with all the risks that it incurs: metabolic disorders (including glucose metabolism, with the emergence of peripheral insulin resistance and the development of diabetes), and cardiovascular disorders.
If the child lives in an area with a low fluoride level water, the physicians must supplement the kid’s diet with this essential element which plays a huge role in the normal development of the dentition.
A more varied diet that meets all the nutritional requirements, such as cereals, vegetables, fruits, meat, and dairy, has the role in preventing the Pluricarential Syndrome. Experts insist that all the essential nutrients that offer a harmonious development should be assimilated through diet, and should not be given as pharmaceutical or vitamin supplements unless the situation needs to be recovered faster than normal.
Although doctors do not recommend taking such supplements on a regular basis, for having a perfectly healthy child, you can introduce such supplements into his diet if you are sure of its origins and ingredients. An unhealthy diet may expose the child to severe mineral deficiencies, or, most commonly to deficiencies of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, folic acid, calcium, and iron.
Consumption of dairy products in limited quantities will cause an insufficient intake of calcium, which will directly affect the growth and the bone structure.
The need for calcium changes during the growth process, as it follows:
- 400 mg per day since 5 months old
- 600 mg per day from 5 to 12 months old
- 800 mg per day between 1 and 10 years of age
- 1200 mg per day for over 11 years old
Foods rich in calcium include skim milk, yogurt, and cheese. Cheese is also a good source of vitamin A, sodium and small amounts of vitamin B. Other products such as broccoli, cooked vegetables or salmon have a high content of calcium, but is harder to convince your children to consume them. Regarding the body needs for iron, it depends on age, sex, the rate of growth and development, existing mineral deposits, and absorption capacity of the digestive tract. For example, the girls during adolescence will have increased iron needs due to the menstrual blood loss. Good sources of iron are meat, fish, cereals, spinach, peas and dry beans.
The Food Pyramid on how to feed kids
The Food Pyramid was created by the specialists to guide people towards a balanced and healthy diet. Using the recommendations included in it, we can create various diets containing products rich in nutrients in the optimal concentrations, without destabilizing the calories, fat, sugar, or salt levels in human bodies.
In the Food Pyramid, the food is arranged from the base to the top, depending on the quantity that must be consumed daily, as follows:
- On the Pyramid’s base are the whole grains (whole wheat flour, oatmeal, brown rice) and refined grains (white bread, husked rice). These products are rich in fibers, iron, and many Vitamin B complex (thiamine, niacin, folic acid). It is recommended a consumption of 6 to 11 servings per day (one serving can contain a slice of bread, a small bowl of cereal, or 100 grams of cooked rice).
- On the next level are the fruits and the vegetables, which are recommended to be consumed in 2 to 5 servings per day. Their importance consists in their content of fibers, vitamin C, folate, and potassium.
- Next, comes the protein group which includes meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. These provide an important supplement of iron and zinc, in addition to the content of proteins these foods contain. Recommended dosage is of 2or 3 servings (70-100 g) of each per day. On the same level of importance are placed the dairy products (whole milk, skimmed milk, cheese, yogurt), milk-based desserts (ice cream, puddings), because dairy products contain calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
- At the top of the Pyramid, there are oils, fats, and sweets as they represent the smallest percentage of food that is in the diet and should be eaten occasionally as they bring more calories without offering nutrients, even though they may contain some nutrients in very small quantities. This category includes vegetable oils, margarine, creams, sugar, soft drinks, and desserts.
Conclusions on how to feed kids
These being said, it is important to know which foods are healthy for your kids, and which are not. Of course, usually, foods that are not healthy might be tastier and might tempt your kids, like in the case of sweets. Your duty as a parent is to teach your kids why is important to eat healthy foods and why sweets and desserts should be only eaten after a meal.
A balanced healthy diet it means exactly what its name says, and should not exclude any ingredient. How to feed kids is not an easy-peasy job, trust me, I know, but being informed about which food is good in accordance with your kids age is important for kids harmonious growth and development, both physical and mental, and to avoid possible severe consequences that may occur if your kids eat something that is not proper or safe for their age.