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26 Jul 2010

Kids’ health: Getting the right nutrition at the right age

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July 26, 2010 Category: Health Posted by:



From the time you first bring your baby home, ensuring your little one is getting the nutrition he or she needs is critical. As your baby grows, those nutritional needs change, requiring different types of diets.


The first 6 months, it’s important to provide your baby with a strong nutritional foundation. During this time, be sure to:


  • Eat a healthy, 2,500- to 2,800-calorie diet of fruits, vegetables and plenty of protein, if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Ensure your baby is getting enough DHA and ARA, two fatty acids that are important for brain and eye development. They occur naturally in breast milk. If you’re using a formula, look for those that contain these two ingredients.
  • Pay attention to fat, iron and vitamin D levels in your baby’s diet. Infant formula should have 40 percent fat content, and provide 11 mg of iron and 10 mcg of vitamin D per day.


If you discover your baby has a food allergy, keep in mind the following:


  • If breastfeeding, remove all allergens from your diet. At this age, milk protein is the most likely culprit, so you’ll need to remove all dairy products and other foods that contain milk protein.
  • If you’re using formula, switch to an elemental formula. Comprised of individual amino acids instead of whole proteins, this formula is easier for babies with allergies to digest.
  • If you switch to an elemental formula, be sure it is made specifically for infants. Avoid diluting a formula made for older children – the nutrients will also be diluted and your baby might not get the necessary amounts.


Around six months is a good time to start transitioning your baby to solid foods.


“This is an important milestone in your baby’s development,” says registered dietician Steven Yannicelli, Ph.D., director of science and education for Nutricia North America, manufacturer of Neocate. “If solids are introduced too late, it can be difficult for the child to learn important oral skills like chewing.”


Your baby will let you know the time is right when he:


  • Can keep his head in a steady, upright position
  • No longer uses his tongue to push food out of his mouth
  • Begins making chewing motions
  • Is double his birth weight
  • Shows an increased appetite


A semi-solid food like rice cereal is a good way to start adding texture to your baby’s diet, but shouldn’t replace breast milk or formula, as that is still the source of nutrition for your baby. Iron is a critical nutrient for infants and toddlers and at this age, so be sure to look for a cereal that is iron-fortified.


If your child has a food allergy, you can give him a hypoallergenic elemental semi-solid medical food. Free of allergens and with more nutrients than rice cereal, this medical food can help your baby’s oral and motor skill development.


Once your baby gets used to the texture of the semi-solid and eating from a spoon, you can begin introducing pureed fruits and vegetables. Food allergy families should consult with their doctors about how to safely test new foods.



By the time your baby is a year old, he will likely have a few teeth and have graduated to cereals and raw fruits and vegetables. He’ll also have a larger appetite and require more nutrients. Most kids get that nutrition by adding those solid foods while still drinking some formula.


However, because babies with food allergies often can’t tolerate many typical introductory solid foods, they may stay on formula or breast milk a little longer. Children with certain medical conditions may also have unique nutritional needs due to malabsorption of certain nutrients. In this case, look for a formula with higher levels of vitamins and minerals and more than 45 percent fat content.


“Just like it’s important to give infants formulas specifically made for them, it’s important to give toddlers with food allergies hypoallergenic elemental formulas that are specifically formulated for those over the age of 1,” says Yannicelli.


For more information on nutrition for children with food allergies, visit

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