Breast milk provides babies with everything they need. Mummy’s breast is equipped with all the important building blocks of life which are necessary for good physical and cognitive development. It has even been shown that babies which were bottle-fed with scientifically certified breast milk substitutes, don’t suffer from any nutrient deficits. What it comes down to concerning baby foods and the final switch to solid foods is mainly the quality of the food and the age-appropriate food quantity.
Diverse and balanced
A normal diet, beginning with breast milk and later transitioning to wholesome wholegrains, vegetables, eggs, milk products, or other sources of protein such as meat or fish, can fully cover a baby’s nutritional needs. Dietary supplements in the form of powders, tablets, juice, or drops are for the most part unnecessary and should be discussed with one’s paediatrician. The administration of probiotics can be advisable during the whole first year of life as this makes children less prone to allergies or neurodermatitis. If the gut is colonised with useful bacteria from the start, then this supports a healthy development of the immune system during infancy. The mother should also begin with the intake of probiotics towards the end of the pregnancy; especially if she suffers from a weakened immune system herself. In the first period after birth, the baby drinks nothing but breast milk or formula. Starting with the fifth to seventh month, parents can start giving baby food (e.g. carrot or parsnip puree) and so slowly begin replacing a breast milk meal. Around the end of the seventh month, a baby food meal can replace another breast milk meal. Around the ninth to twelfth month, the baby can start eating similar meals than the rest of the family does; they should just be slightly modified. However, this doesn’t mean that the child must be weaned yet. For example, many mother mothers breast feed their babies as a sort of bedtime ritual. The general rule is: Breast feeding is possible for as long as the mother and child want.
When it comes to bodily and cognitive development in humans, the first years of life are the most important. When children reach an age of around four years, their bodies’ energy demand per kilo begins decreasing. Whereby one should not forget that a child’s overall caloric requirements constantly increase due to body growth. In this growth period, an adequate intake of iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and the vitamins A, D, and C, is especially important. With a normal, balanced, and fresh diet the little ones shouldn’t be lacking anything they need: Grains, fruit, and vegetables contain a wide range of nutrients and fibres. Milk and dairy products supply calcium and vitamin D. Fish is an important source of Iodine. Magnesium and iron can be found in wholegrain products. Consequently, a child is well provided for with a healthy mixed diet. If deficiency signs do start to show up because a child refuses to eat many different foods, then this should be discussed with the child’s paediatrician.