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Nutrition: Infancy and the Toddlerhood Period

Describe the importance of nutrition during infancy and the toddlerhood period.

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1. Describe the importance of nutrition during infancy and the toddlerhood period

INFANCY (Birth to one)

Nutrition is especially crucial during infancy period (from birth to one) as the brain and body is growing rapidly, laying foundation for further development. Interference here can have repercussions across the entire life-cycle. The nutrients usually come from milk until 4 to 6 months, which is recommended. Breastmilk, or a substitute commercial formula if human milk is not available, can be the baby's sole source of nutrients and energy for the first 6 months. (1) When babies are fed on demand, as in breastfeeding, most healthy, full-term infants have the ability to regulate their intake to consume the amount they need to grow appropriately. Breastfeeding is often recommended as the best way to achieve an adequate energy and nutrient intake during infancy in a loving and supportive environment, which also helps them develop a sense of security and trust. (1)

In terms of nutrition, most infants are developmentally ready for an introduction to pureed foods between 4 and 6 months of age to meet the growth and energy needs of the child. (2) It is important NOT to introduce solid foods prior to 4 months for several health reasons:

?In the first weeks of life, immaturity of the kidney excludes large osmolar loads of protein and electrolytes and digestion of some fats, proteins, and carbohydrates is compromised.
?At age 3-5 months, infants are able to digest and absorb cereal, but at age 1-2 months carbohydrate and protein digestion and absorption are compromised by cereal ingestion. (3)
?In the first months of life poorly developed swallowing skills may lead to aspiration. Increased respiratory illness and persistent cough have been reported in infants given solids early (4), and coughing may increase following ingestion of formula thickened with infant cereal (5) Early introduction of a variety of solid foods may increase risk of atopic and immunological disease in susceptible children.(1)

Semisolid foods progressing to "table foods" in the latter part of the first year provides energy and nutrients as well as support for oral and fine motor development. (2)

TODDLER (ages one through three)

Nutrition is important during ...

Solution Summary

Describes the importance of nutrition during infancy and the toddlerhood period, such as brain development and other essential developmental processes. Links are provided for further research.