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Health Encylopedia

 
Age appropriate diet for children
 
SubjectContents
Definition A diet that provides adequate nutrition and is appropriate for a child's state of development.
Alternative Names Diet - age appropriate
Function 
Food Sources 
Side Effects 
Recommendations BIRTH TO FOUR MONTHS OF AGE During the first four to six months of life, infants need only breast milk or formula to meet all their nutritional needs. Breast milk is the recommended feeding method for the first 6 months of life although a fortified formula can adequately meet an infant's needs. If breastfeeding , a newborn may need to nurse 8 to 12 times per day (every 2 to 4 hours), or on demand. By four months, the baby is likely to cut back to 4 to 6 times per day, however the quantity breast milk consumed at each feeding will increase. Formula-fed babies may need to eat about 6 to 8 times per day, starting with 2 to 5 oz formula per feeding (for a total of 16-35 oz per day). As with breastfeeding, the number of feedings will decrease as the baby gets older, but the amount of formula will increase to approximately 6 to 8 ounces per feeding. Never give honey to an infant, as it may contain the spores that cause botulism . An infant's immune system is not fully developed to fight off this disease. Although an infant may sleep through the night, waking to feed may be necessary if the infant is not eating enough during the day or if they are underweight. Routine check-ups with your physician to monitor your child's growth will ensure they are adequately eating during the day. Your doctor or dietitian will inform you if waking to feed is indicated. FOUR TO SIX MONTHS OF AGE At 4 to 6 months of age an infant should be consuming 28 to 45 ounces of formula, and is often ready to start the transition to solid foods. Starting solids too soon may cause the infant to choke if they are not physically ready. There are several developmental milestones to indicate an infant is ready eat solid foods: when birth weight has doubled; the baby has good control of head and neck; can sit up with some support; can show fullness by turning the head away or by not opening the mouth; and the baby begins showing interest in food when others are eating. Start solid feedings with iron-fortified baby rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula to a thin consistency. The cereal may be mixed to a thicker consistency as the baby learns to control it in his mouth. Initially, offer cereal two times per day in servings of 1 or 2 tablespoons (dry amount, before mixing with formula or breast milk). Gradually increase to 3 or 4 tablespoons of cereal. Cereal should not be given in a bottle unless a physician or dietitian may recommend it for reflux . Once the baby is eating rice cereal routinely, you may introduce other iron-fortified instant cereals. Only introduce one new cereal per week so you can watch for an intolerance. Never put a child to bed with a bottle as it can develop " bottle mouth ", resulting in tooth decay . Use plain water if a bottle is necessary. Discuss use of water with your physician. (In some cases, use of excess water can lead to seizures in children.) SIX TO EIGHT MONTHS Continue to offer breast milk or formula 3 to 5 times per day. The consumption of formula or breast milk will begin to level off as solid foods become a source of nutrition. After a baby has tried a variety of different baby cereals, try fruit juices and strained fruits and vegetables. For juices, use infant-pack juices or unsweetened Vitamin C rich juices such as apple, grape, orange. Do not give juices in a bottle at bedtime as this may lead to tooth decay. Delay orange juice until 9 months of age if your family has a history of allergy to orange juice. For strained fruits and vegetables, introduce one at a time waiting 2 to 3 days in between to check for any allergic reaction . Start with plain vegetables such as green peas, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, beans, beets; and plain fruits such as bananas, applesauce, apricots, pears, peaches, and melon. Some dietitians recommend introduction of a few vegetables before fruits as the fruit's sweetness may make a less-sweet food such as vegetables less appealing. Give fruits and vegetables in 2 to 3 tablespoon servings and offer about 4 servings per day. Amounts of fruits and vegetables consumed per day will vary between 2 tablespoons and 2 cups depending on the size of your child and how well the child eats fruits and vegetables. The consistency of foods offered may be gradually increased as your child tolerates. Finger foods may be offered in small amounts, but avoid foods such as apple chunks or slices, grapes, hot dogs, sausages, peanut butter, popcorn, nuts, seeds, round candies, and hard chunks of uncooked vegetables that may cause choking . Soft cooked vegetables, washed and peeled fruits, graham crackers, melba toast, noodles are good finger foods, but salted and/or sugared foods are not recommended. Teething foods, such as toast strips, unsalted crackers, bagels, and teething biscuits may also be introduced at this time. EIGHT TO TWELVE MONTHS OF AGE Breast milk or formula should be offered 3 to 4 times per day at this age. At 8 to 12 months of age, a baby will be ready to try strained or finely chopped meats. For breastfed infants, start meats at 8 months of age (breast milk is not a rich source of iron, but infants have adequate iron stores to last until 8 months of age when iron-rich foods such as meats can be given). As with other foods, offer only one new meat per week in 3 to 4 tablespoon servings -- use strained and finely ground meats, frankfurters, or meat sticks. Serving sizes for fruits and vegetables increases to 3 to 4 tablespoons, 4 times per day. Eggs may be given 3 to 4 times per week, but only the yolk until the baby is one year old as some babies are sensitive to egg whites. By the age of one, most children are off the bottle. If the child still uses a bottle, it should contain water only. ONE YEAR OF AGE After a baby is one-year old, whole milk (" Vitamin D " or 4%) may replace breast milk or formula. Children under the age of two should not be given fat '>low-fat milk (2% or skim) as they need the additional calories from fat to ensure proper growth and development. Children under the age of one should not be given whole milk as it has been shown to cause anemia. Cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt, however, may be given in small amounts. While milk is not as nutrient dense as breast milk or formula, the one-year old child should be getting much of their nutrition from meats, fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, and the dairy group. Providing a variety of foods will help to ensure adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. Toddlers do not grow as rapidly as babies do, so their nutritional needs relative to their size decrease during the second year of life (although they continue to gain weight, they no longer "double their weight" as infants do). Keep in mind, however, that toddlers are becoming more and more active as they learn to crawl and walk. Toddlers and small children will usually eat only small amounts at one time, but will eat frequently (4 to 6 times) throughout the day so snacking is strongly encouraged. Feeding Tips:
  • Feeding solids too early is not recommended and can result in overfeeding.
  • Offer only one new food at a time. Offer the new foods for a few days. Watch for
  • allergic reactions ( hives , vomiting , diarrhea ).
  • Do not feed solids in a bottle.
  • If your child dislikes the new food, try giving it again later.
  • SAFETY FIRST
  • Feed the baby directly from the jar only if you use the entire jar contents, otherwise use a dish to prevent contamination with food-borne illness.
  • Opened containers of baby's food should be covered and stored in a refrigerator for no longer than two days.
  • Use a small spoon to feed the baby.
  • A baby put to bed with a bottle (milk, fruit juice, or sweetened beverage) can develop
  • nursing bottle mouth, resulting in tooth decay. Use plain water if a bottle is necessary.
  • Avoid foods that may cause the baby to choke (popcorn, nuts, potato chips, whole kernel corn, berries, grapes, hot dogs, raw vegetables, raisins, dry flake cereals).
  • OTHER TIPS
  • Water can be offered between feedings.
  • Feeding sweets or sweetened beverages is not recommended because they will spoil the appetite and contribute to tooth decay.
  • Salt, sugar, and strong spices are not recommended.
  • Caffeine
  • products are not recommended (soft drinks,
  • coffee , tea, chocolate).
  • A fussy baby may need attention, not always food.
  • OLDER CHILDREN Throughout childhood and adolescence , it is important that the diet include a variety of foods for proper development. The principles of the Food Guide Pyramid apply to a child's diet as well as adults, although portions and number of servings per day are obviously less for children. After the age of 2, it is recommended that the diet be moderately low in fat, as diets high in fat may contribute to heart disease , obesity , and other health problems later in life. In areas where water is not fluoridated, however, fluoride supplementation is recommended (for communities with less than .25 p.p.m. Fluoride). A diet that contains a variety of foods from each of the food groups (breads and grains, meats, fruits and vegetables, and dairy) will prevent nutrient deficiencies. Both the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association recommend that healthy children should get all their nutrients from foods rather than vitamin supplements. The nutrients that are most likely to be deficient in a child's diet are calcium, iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin A , folic acid , and Vitamin B6 . The American Academy of Pediatrics does not support routine supplementation for normal, healthy children. However, there is no significant risk if a parent wishes to give their child a standard pediatric multi-vitamin. Children who consume little or no dairy products are at particular risk for calcium deficiency that can interfere with bone growth and development. Foods that are good sources of calcium include fat '>low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, and cheeses. Other foods such as broccoli, cooked greens, and canned salmon (with bones) will also provide a source of calcium in the diet, however it is often difficult to get children to consume adequate quantities of these foods. Iron requirements vary by age, rate of growth, iron stores, increasing blood volume, and rate of absorption from food sources. Adolescent girls will have increased iron needs due to menstrual losses. Food sources of iron include meat, fish, poultry, iron-fortified cereals, spinach greens, and dried beans and peas.