Arranging the baby’s or toddler’s menu can be challenging for parents. Although the baby’s belly is still small, its body has enormous needs. Due to the intensive development, it needs much more specific nutrients than an adult’s body. That is why the baby’s diet should differ from that of older family members.
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Breastfeeding Is the Basis of a Baby’s Diet
Breastfeeding is the most appropriate and cheapest way of feeding infants, which is recommended for babies and toddlers along with a balanced, diversified diet. Mother’s milk contains all the nutrients necessary for the proper baby development and protects it against diseases and infections.
Breastfeeding gives the best results when the mother is properly nourished during pregnancy and lactation and when there is no unjustified feeding of the baby. Before deciding to change the feeding method, the mother should consult her doctor.
What Ingredients Must Be Present in Baby Food?
According to the law, food intended for infants and toddlers must meet the specific requirements and limitations of the maturing organism, meeting safety standards much more stringent than in the case of food for general consumption.
To ensure the proper functioning of the baby’s body, the parents must provide it with a properly balanced diet that includes, among others, the following substances:
- Vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption and is important for the proper development of bones and teeth and the immune system functioning. A baby at the age of a year needs six times more vitamin D than an adult. Good sources of this substance are fatty sea fish (salmon, mackerel), egg yolk, and products intended especially for the youngest, enriched with vitamin D, such as organic European baby formulas.
- Calcium. A child from 1 to 3 years old needs four times more calcium than an adult because it is involved in building teeth and bones. Good sources of calcium are milk and dairy products.
This Is Important! Research shows that 94% of children over one year of age receive insufficient amounts of vitamin D in their diet. A calcium deficit occurs in the diet of almost half (42%) of children over one year of age.
- Vitamin C affects the functioning of the immune system and takes part in calcium and iron absorption. A yearling needs three times more vitamin C than older family members. The best sources of this vitamin are vegetables and fruits, incl. red pepper, parsley, and berries.
- Fiber regulates the digestive system and supports the development of bacterial microbiota in the intestines, which is an important part of the digestive system. Its sources are, among others, vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain cereal products.
- Iron is critical for cognitive development, red blood cell production, and the immune system functioning. Its sources are meat, parsley, and legume seeds. A toddler needs four times more iron than an adult.
- Iodine is an irreplaceable element for the production of thyroid hormones that play a critical role in the growth process. It also influences proper cognitive development. Iodine deficiencies can lower the body’s immunity. Iodine is found mainly in animal protein foods and sea vegetables.
- Fats are a source of energy and are necessary for the absorption of many vitamins that dissolve in them. Unsaturated fatty acids are necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Particularly important in the toddler’s menu are polyunsaturated fatty acids, i.e., vegetable oils: rapeseed oil, olive oil, and avocado.
When selecting products for the youngest, it is worth following the quality, safety, and age marking on the packaging and carefully reading the food labels to ensure that your baby receives everything necessary for its proper development.
Remember to Keep Your Baby Hydrated
Exclusively breastfed babies do not require water or any other foods until the age of six months. However, when your baby starts on an extended diet, you must remember to provide it with water. Water is an inseparable element of the diet of babies, toddlers, and adults. Among other functions, it ensures the proper transportation of nutrients. In the youngest aged 1-3 years, the fluid requirement is about 1,300 ml per day. For children, it is worth choosing spring water and natural low-sodium mineral waters.