Heath and nutrition
Nutrition for Babies
Babies are very special little people who need the best care available to them. It is especially important that they have a healthy start in life. As their early years are the crucial years for growth and development, the right foods in the right amounts are necessary for their long term health. Breast milk is preferable as the sole source of nutrition up until about 6 months, or infant formula if you are unable to breastfeed.
The Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) state that at 6 months of age, your baby needs additional iron from food and is physically ready to take on the challenge of learning to eat. Breast milk or formula, however, continues to be the most important source of nutrition.
In recent years there has been increasing awareness of the importance of peri natal nutrition in terms of the development of disease in adulthood; this is known as the foetal origins of disease or Barker hypothesis. In addition, there is increasing evidence of the importance of growth and nutrition in relation to cognitive development. Growth during infancy also influences future bone mass.
Children between the ages of 1 and 5 years are still considered nutritionally vulnerable, although their growth rate is slower than in infancy and their nutritional needs in relation to their body size are proportionally reduced. Relative to their body weight, however, children's nutrient and energy requirement are still greater than those of adults.
Compared with adults, young children are unable to exert as much control over what they eat. Too little or too much food, or an imbalance of nutrients or energy over a period, can alter the natural progress of physical growth. A child's rate of growth is a fundamental indicator of dietary adequacy and health, and parents and other carers must be aware of and responsive to the developmental and nutritional needs of children. Growth is the most important indicator of good nutrition.
Childhood is a period of continuous education about eating and good nutrition, and appropriate use of food is important in establishing lifetime nutrition practices
(Source : NHMRC Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia)
Parent's Major Concerns on Infant Health