SUPPLEMENTARY FOODS FOR INFANTS
The first year of life is a period of very rapid growth. An infant’s birth weight doubles after about five months and triples by the first birthday, by which time the infant’s length increases by half. Adequate and appropriate nutrition is essential during this period, for infants that do not receive sufficient calories , vitamins , and minerals will not reach their expected growth.
Milk is deficient in iron and Vitamin D and does not contain adequate amounts of ascorbic acid. When the infant is about 5-6 months old, strained baby foods based on vegetables, fruits and meat and precooked cereal foods are gradually introduced in the feed. The supplementary foods given to infants include
- A source of vitamin D
- Fruit juices
- Strained baby foods and
- Pre-cooked cereal foods.
VITAMIN D: – A source of vitamin D is essential for infants receiving unfortified milk and milk foods. Great care should be taken to ensure that excess of vitamin D is not administered.
FRUIT JUICES: – Fruit juices commonly given to infants are orange or tomato juices. These provide the required amounts of vitamin C. The organic acids present in fruit juice help to lower the curd tension of milk and thereby aid in the digestion of milk proteins and in the absorption of calcium.
EGG YOLK: – Milk is a poor source of iron and a fair source of thiamine. Egg yolk is a fair source of both these nutrients and it has become customary in western countries to add yolk to the diets of infants from 4th to 6th month onwards.
STRAINED VEGETABLES AND FRUITS: – Strained fruits and vegetables are added to the diets of infants from the 4th month onwards. They provide iron, vitamin C and small amounts of indigestible carbohydrates. The latter may help to prevent constipation.
PRECOOKED ENTECHED CEREAL FOODS: – There is increasing evidence that cereal foods thrive better than those who do not precooked roller dried cereal foods are used for this purpose. They are generally fortified with iron so that they may meet the iron requirements of the infants.