Feeding, infant

A baby grows more rapidly in its first year than at any future time in its life. A good diet is essential for healthy growth and development. During the first 4 to 6 months, most babies’ nutritional requirements are met by milk alone, whether by breast-feeding or bottle-feeding. Both human milk and artificial milk contain carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals in similar proportions. However, human milk also contains antibodies and white blood cells that protect the baby against infection. From 6 weeks, supplementary vitamin D should be given to breast-fed babies. Formula milk already contains vitamin supplements. At 1 year of age, a baby can be safely fed with full-fat cow’s milk. Vitamin supplements should then be given until the baby is established on a mixed diet. Solids, initially in the form of purees and wheat-free cereals, should be introduced between 4 and 6 months of age, depending on the birth weight, rate of growth, and contentment with feeding. By 6 months, the baby should be eating true solids, such as chopped-up meat and vegetables. A few babies have an intolerance to certain foods such as lactose or cow’s milk protein (see food intolerance; nutritional disorders).


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