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The evolution of nutritional needs

In the first few months after birth, young children experience the most rapid growth of their lives. Your little one’s birth weight will double in the first six months. During this time, his nutritional needs are also changing quickly, so the composition of nutrients should adapt accordingly to meet these changing nutritional requirements.

PROTEIN

To assist with this intense initial growth, protein requirement increases then gradually lowers over the following months in sync with your baby’s slowing growth rate.

ENERGY

Energy requirement (kcal/kg per day) is the highest during the first month of life, followed by a gradual decrease in the coming few months.

FATS

During this initial period of rapid growth, an increased intake of fat over the first two months is also suggested, before being stabilized or lowered.

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates intake should progressively increase to provide your baby’s total nutritional energy.

 

Months 7-12

During months seven to twelve, your baby’s diet should be changing, with more solids becoming part of his diet.

Did you know?

  • As your baby becomes more active, greater, too, so does his nutritional needs, with the introduction of more varied foods beginning as early as 6 months old, depending on his developmental progress.
  • For this, fatty acids are essential to offset the lower fat levels in some of baby’s first solid foods.

Your baby's new diet

After six months, your baby still continues to grow, but at a less rapid pace than in earlier months. He begins to taste his first vegetable purees and fruit compotes. Your baby’s nutritional needs have begun to expand.

Big changes ahead

From the middle to the end of his first year, your baby will go from sitting to pulling up and may even take his first steps. He will begin to feed himself, say short words like “mama” and “no” and become increasingly playful.

Proper nutrition is essential to supply the energy to meet the needs of an ever-more-active baby needs to begin the thrilling transition to toddlerhood.

First solids

The first solids for your baby consist mainly of rice. His new eating regime gives him mainly carbohydrates and proteins. However, these meals are not necessarily high in fat, particularly essential fatty acids, which your baby still needs for the proper development of his organs and certain critical functions.

Vitamins and minerals, not yet sufficiently provided by the solids your baby is eating, should not be forgotten. Many additional essential nutrients are still needed to ensure your baby continues to grow and develop.

New food alters your baby's digestive system

With the introduction of solid foods, your baby's digestive system changes dramatically. In addition, as your baby explores his environment, he puts objects in his mouth, exposing him to many different germs.

A smooth transition to solid food

The transition to a diet of solid food is not made overnight. You should allow time for your little gourmet’s digestive tract to adapt to these new foods, and for your baby to get used to new tastes. Likewise, the mechanism used for swallowing food is a very new experience for your baby.

Bottle-feeding your baby during this phase of great change is therefore reassuring and explains why your baby continues to enjoy drinking from a bottle.

 

Months 13-36

After thirteen months, your baby is becoming a toddler, and is working hard on large motor skills, such as walking.

Did you know?

  • Even when toddlers are old enough to begin to eat independently at the table, their nutritional needs are very different than those of adults, or even older children.
  • After the first year, your child will be eating mostly solids, but these alone may not be enough for his development. Milk would remain to be part of a healthy diet.

Finding a balance

Around their first birthday, many babies begin to stand up alone and take their first steps. Your baby’s diet now includes solid food, but his nutritional needs are still different from an older child’s due to continued rapid growth.

Milk is an essential source of nutrition during this period of your baby’s life. It provides a portion of his energy needs.

Becoming a toddler

In his second and third years, your baby grows into an increasingly capable toddler. His ability to learn, remember and imagine blossoms along with language. Motor skills keep pace, and parents keep busy, as toddlers become steady walkers and start to work on climbing, running and jumping.

Getting the essentials

Your child’s diet of solid food is not yet fully diversified, thus a risk of insufficiency in lipids, including essential fatty acids, still persists between the first and second year. These lipids are important for the development of your child’s vision, cognitive function and immune system.

It is therefore important to supplement essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), including DHA and AA, two polyunsaturated long-chain fatty acids, in the right proportions. A good source of calcium, vitamins and other minerals is vital to help your child keep growing. Some fortified toddler formulas also provide the required amount of micronutrients, such as sodium, potassium and chloride, as well as iron, iodine and zinc.

After age two: sitting at the big table

After your child’s second birthday, he likely eats more or less the same food as you. However his nutritional needs are not the same as yours. For example, calcium, is particularly important for your toddler’s growth.

Milk and iron

Iron plays a crucial role in the cognitive development of your child and in various metabolic processes, including the formation of red blood cells. Cow's milk may not provide your child with the amount of iron that he needs. Formula, on the other hand, is fortified with iron and other vitamins and minerals necessary to meet toddlers’ nutritional needs.

Ask your pediatrician for advice – he may suggest supplementing your child’s diet with extra iron.