Infant Foods Infant Nutrition

Infants are defined, somewhat arbitrarily, as less than 1 year of age. Infant foods and feeding practices have been adapted to encompass infants and young children to allow for feeding during the first 2 to 3 years.

The infant has unique nutritional needs, substantially different from those of an adult. Energy, protein, iron, and other needs are greater than at any other period in life. Food must be relatively concentrated, and with a controlled consistency, because the volume capability, chewing, and manipulation of food are limited. At no other point in life is the growth rate of infancy duplicated. Infants typically double their birth weight in 3 to 4 months and triple it by 1 year, and the rapid growth rate places nutritional demands on the food supply. To accompany the rapid growth rate, infants have a very high basal metabolic rate. Complicating this is a limited stomach capacity, requiring an appropriate concentration of nutrients. The limited renal capability must be considered to ensure that electrolytes and protein are not present in deleterious quantities. In addition, the digestive system is immature, which requires that foods be selected that are relatively easy to digest. The most obvious of the characteristics is the limited ability to chew foods; therefore the foods must be appropriate in consistency and texture.

Breast feeding is recognized as the preferred method for feeding very young infants, and breast milk should be the exclusive food for the first 4 to 6 months unless circumstances (mother unable to breast-feed, breast milk inade quate, etc) do not allow exclusive breast feeding. Any food other than breast milk that is introduced should supplement rather than replace breast feeding.

For these reasons, a specific and well-defined set of foods have been developed for infants and young children. Infant feeding practices vary considerably in different parts of the world depending on the availability of food and custom. Definitions and standards have been developed by Codex Alimentarius but are, for the most part, utilized as guidelines.

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

For many years, scientists have been playing out the ingredients that make breast milk the perfect food for babies. They've discovered to day over 200 close compounds to fight infection, help the immune system mature, aid in digestion, and support brain growth - nature made properties that science simply cannot copy. The important long term benefits of breast feeding include reduced risk of asthma, allergies, obesity, and some forms of childhood cancer. The more that scientists continue to learn, the better breast milk looks.

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