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How to meet the Nutritional Requirements of your little one? An age-wise guide

How to meet the Nutritional Requirements of your little one? An age-wise guide

0-6 Months

Exclusive Nursing

All nutritional requirements are met by human milk. The only substitute that should be offered to children of this age group is Stage 1 formula.

6-12 Months

Complementary Breastfeeding

Breast milk remains the primary source of nutrition, and the only substitute is Stage 1 formula. Weaning food of different textures and flavours should be introduced. Iron-rich foods should be incorporated at this age as iron reserves start depleting in the birth parent, and human feed might not suffice a growing child’s iron requirements. Food like legumes, green leafy vegetables, meat and fish can fulfill this requirement.  Children under the age of one should not be given sugar, salt, honey or jaggery. 

12-24 Months

From the family pot

As advised by Unicef, children should eat from the family pot. It is essential to include a portion of the following foods everyday:

  1. Animal Foods- Dairy ( rich in proteins and b12 but can hamper iron absorption), fish, meat, poultry *Animal milk shouldn’t be given as a drink yet, it can be used in cooking. 
  2. Legumes like Chickpeas, lentils Pulses/ Nuts
  3. Vegetables and Fruits- add at least one leafy green and one orange vegetables daily for iron and vitamin C. Iron is absorbed better in the presence of Vitamin C. (Rich in iron- spinach, peas, broccoli) (Rich in vitamin c- Tomatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower)
  4. A little fat or oil

Common myths:

  • Myth- ‘Stage 2 formula has more nutrients.’ Fact-It has more sugar and less bioavailable proteins, and creates the  possibility of a struggle to digest unaltered milk proteins.
  • Myth- ‘Runny food is easier to digest’. Fact- food should not be too runny, as a soupy texture can actually risk malnourishment. Unicef field guides, for instance, suggest a texture that is more like a thick mash, so more of upma texture than porridge

Additional tips:

  • Testing children for common deficiencies can help caregivers tailor meals according to the needs of the child.
  • Adding nuts and seeds is a great way to incorporate zinc and fats into the diet. Whole nuts should be avoided and nuts can be given in the following ways- Nut butters, pureed steamed nuts or add powdered nuts to smoothies. 
  • Sprouting and soaking of whole grains and legumes for greater bioavailability of nutrients
  • Fermented foods like dosa, dal batters to aid nutrition (fermented rice alone has 400% the iron availability that regular boiled rice does)