Throughout life, food plays an essential role in the development of the child, but even more so in times of accelerated growth. During the first year, breastfeeding, the introduction of new foods and the transition to eating for the elderly should be controlled to avoid nutrition problems.
The ideal food for the newborn is breast milk. No other food can replace it, since it meets the needs of energy, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water, which the baby needs to grow and develop properly. Colostrum, which is the fluid produced by the mammary glands during the first days after delivery, is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.
In addition, it contains antibodies and anti-infective and anti-inflammatory agents, including immunoglobulins, which are very important in strengthening the immune system, and enzymes and hormones, which are beneficial for the development and growth of the baby. In addition, it avoids the risk of infectious diseases, both stomach and respiratory, allergies, colic and bone and tooth malformations.
The first 4-6 months of life are characterized by being a period of rapid growth, especially for the brain, and as breast milk contains amino acids and fatty acids, it is ideal to meet these needs.
During the first 12 months of life, the baby triples in weight and its height increases by 50 percent. These increases in weight and height are the main indices used to assess your nutritional status and are measured at regular intervals, compared to standard growth charts. These measurements are important tools in assessing a child's progress, especially between 6 and 12 months of age. As the baby grows, gradually develops its bodily and social functions, which requires a large amount of energy that needs to be ingested through food.
Adding solid complementary foods is a gradual process, starting around 6 months of age. The exact moment depends on the baby and the mother, and reflects the fact that although breast milk is sufficient during the first months, when the child grows up it no longer provides all the adequate nutrients on its own. It also helps the child to develop the ability to chew and speak. The quality, quantity and variety of solid foods is increasing at a rate that is normally imposed by the child himself.
Cereals are generally the first foods to be incorporated into an infant's diet, mixed with breast milk or formula, followed by pureed vegetables and fruits, and meat. If your baby is breastfed for the first 4 to 6 months of life, he will be less likely to develop allergies. The foods most likely to cause allergic reactions in sensitive children are egg whites and fish, which are generally incorporated after 12 months.
From the sixth month, it is recommended to supplement breastfeeding with other foods such as:
- Cereals. Rich vitamins of group B, which are involved in the synthesis of proteins and are essential for growth and development.
- Fruits and vegetables, rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Yolk. Gradually and well cooked. It contains fat-soluble vitamins A and D, essential for the formation of bones and tissues.
- meats. First, the least fat (chicken and turkey) and, gradually, that of beef and pork. They contain significant amounts of iron, which is a component of hemoglobin, necessary to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, and for red blood cells, which are involved in energy production processes.
- Fish. In order, first the whites and after the year of life, the blue ones. Rich in essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6, vitamins of group B and zinc, which collaborates in the processes of obtaining energy, is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system or the body's defenses and has antioxidant action.
One aspect to take into account in the first year of life is the amount of iron provided by the diet, and for this reason, during childhood, the appearance of iron deficiency anemia is routinely monitored. The use of preparations or cereals enriched with iron and the consumption of foods rich in iron such as ground meats, can help prevent this problem.
Read the second part of the article: The importance of food in growth: puberty.
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