Infant Nutrition

baby’s immature immune system

Infant nutrition is the terminology used to describe the nutritional needs of babies. Babies need more than adequate calories, nutrients, and fluids to develop normally. A diet deficient in essential vitamins, minerals, or proteins is viewed as inadequate.

The first six months of life are critical to baby’s overall health. Babies born prematurely can be prone to illness and infections, and can even be injured or die. Newborns who receive no immunity from bacteria before birth remain at increased risk of infections throughout their first year of life. A diet rich in nutrients can help baby’s immature immune system fight off infections and ward off illnesses.

Infants cannot process calories

Babies require less calories than adults, because they are not growing physically. Infants cannot process calories that come into their bodies at the same rate that adults can. Because babies digest food at a slower rate than toddlers and grow at about half the rate of adults, they have to consume much fewer calories than children. One advantage of infant nutrition is that babies can eat a wide variety of foods, many of which are already compatible with their growing nutrition needs.

Infant nutrition usually follows the same pattern as adult nutrition. Mothers can provide healthy food choices by feeding breast milk to the infant, although formulas are available for some infants. Formulas may be necessary for very premature infants who have difficulty eating solids or who have a serious nutritional deficiency. Formula feeding can be safe provided the mother has been instructed on appropriate feeding procedures and follows recommended amounts and schedules.


Breastfeeding is one of the most important aspects of infant nutrition. When babies are breastfed, antibodies are formed against germs and disease-causing organisms, which reduce the risks of infections and other illnesses. In addition, breast milk contains essential fats and other nutrients that are beneficial to the infant’s health. However, in some countries, regulations limit the use of some additives and substances in infant formula, and studies indicate that infants fed food that is rich in saturated fats have a greater risk of developing heart disease later in life.

Both the baby and mother should practice infant nutrition, but it is best to start when the baby is still relatively young, because older babies tend to be more resistant to changes in diets. It is also recommended that women who are planning to breastfeed make sure that they are prepared in advance to provide the needed nourishment to the baby. Mothers should remember that breastfeedings should ideally happen just after the baby is weaned.

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