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 Nutritional Programs: Nutritional Programs for Infancy 

A common problem during the first six months is infant colic. It is more common in first children but may occur in any. Some psychological stresses may influence colic, but it may also be affected by the mother’s diet. Cow’s milk consumed by the mother may be a factor; excessive sugar or salt intake may also worsen colic. Often a decrease in the mother’s milk product consumption will reduce the colic symptoms. Some extra B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and potassium taken by the mother may help reduce colic in the baby as well as reduce mother’s intestinal gas. Also, mother must constantly remember to eat well so that she does not become depleted during nursing.

Babies need more calories and protein per pound than any other age group. Goat’s milk, and even cow’s milk, with their protein, fat, and calorie content, are potentially valuable foods in moderation (if tolerated well) for rapidly growing babies (after eight to ten months) and children. The "dairy" problem comes in when adults continue to use milk and its products as a regular part of their diet. Lifelong use of milk is one of the biggest misconceptions and mistakes in nutrition. Consumption of dairy products should be greatly curtailed by the adult population, and by those children and teenagers sensitive to milk. If infants and children develop any recurrent congestive problems, such as excessive nasal mucus or ear infections, it is suggested they go off all cow’s milk products for a time (several weeks) to see if their problems improve.

When and what to feed infants is a rather controversial issue as well. Some parents try to feed solid foods to their little babies at four months or sooner. This is a big mistake. Infants will do fine on milk alone. The trend is returning to later rather than earlier feeding. Premature feeding can lead to poor digestion, increased allergy, and obesity. There may appear to be increased growth, but it could be just increased fat. Skin-fold measurements are used now along with growth and development charts to show whether this is the case. Increased fat at this time can lead to increased numbers of fat cells, which will increase the likelihood of adult obesity. Premature feeding may also influence later eating habits. Five to six months is the earliest and six months probably the best time to begin feeding that little being any solid foods. Waiting until six months of age gives baby time to develop his or her digestive tract and immunological system to reduce the likelihood of allergy.

Initial foods should be simple, natural, and pureed to assist digestion. The true flavors of food are best; avoid the use of sweetened or salted foods, especially refined sugar and refined flour foods. First foods may be pureed or cooked fruits, cooked and pureed vegetables, and cooked cereal grains (formulated for baby). These foods along with mother’s milk will provide the proper nourishment for this time of rapid growth. Egg yolks can also be added to the diet, but avoid egg whites as yet, as the albumin protein is more allergenic.

At seven to eight months, a few teeth may start to appear. Toast can be used for teething. Some meats can be added now; these should be baked or broiled and then finely chopped or pureed. Potatoes, baked or boiled and mashed, along with other vegetables, may also round out the menu.

From eight months to one year, babies may do some serious eating. They may be more independent, adventurous, and enthusiastic with food. They will try more new foods, and the diet can become more well-rounded. Whole eggs may be used as a good source of protein now. Milk consumption may be reduced, but it is still a regular source of nourishment. Infants may wean at this time, though many mother-baby teams will continue nursing for another year or more, especially with the aid of a breast pump for working mothers. Foods and meals should be simple. Make as much of your own foods as possible; jars and cans of foods should not be used exclusively.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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