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Infants and young children are needed nutrient very high because of the rapid rate of growth and development during the first two years of life. Breast milk can make a substantial contribution to the total nutrient intake of children between 6 and 24 months of age, particularly for protein and many of the vitamins. However, breast milk is relatively low in several minerals such as iron and zinc, even after accounting for bioavailability. At 9-11 months of age, for example, the proportion of the Recommended Nutrient Intake that needs to be supplied by complementary foods is 97% for iron, 86% for zinc, 81% for phosphorus, 76% for magnesium, 73% for sodium and 72% for calcium (Dewey, 2001).

Fat is important in the diets of infants and young children because it provides essential fatty acids, facilitates absorption of fat soluble vitamins, and enhances dietary energy density and sensory qualities. Breast milk is generally a more abundant source of fat than most complementary foods. Thus, total fat intake usually decreases with age as the contribution of breast milk to total dietary energy declines. Although there is debate about the optimal amount of fat in the diets of infants and young children, the range of 30-45% of total energy has been suggested (Dewey and Brown, 2002; Bier et al., 1999). For infants in developing countries consuming an average amount of breast milk with a normal fat concentration (38 g/L), for example, the needed percentage of energy from fat in complementary foods is 0-34% at 6-8 months, 5-38% at 9-11 months, and 17-42% at 12-23 months.

Tea and coffee contain compounds that can interfere with iron absorption (Allen and Ahluwalia, 1997), and thus are not recommended for young children. Sugary drinks, such as soda, and several snacks should be avoided because they contribute little other than energy, and thereby decrease the child’s appetite for more nutritious foods (Skinner et al., 1999).

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This entry was posted on 22 October 2011 by in Balita, Gizi Daur and tagged , .

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