There is evidence now that we develop physically, mentally, socially, more in the first 5 years of life, than we do over the rest of our lives. The first 2 years of life are the most critical for cognitive development however.
Much of this development is dependent on proper social interactions with caregivers as well as on proper and healthy nutrition.
Proper nutrition is more than just ensuring an adequate intake of protein and calories. Proper nutrition is also related to WHAT we intake, the micronutrient content, the “small stuff!”
Obviously, the best nutrition for the first 6 months of life is mother’s milk. Breast milk. It is sterile, the proper temperature, has the appropriate amount of water, calories, carbohydrates, fat (and types of fats for brain development), protein (casein:whey ratio), micronutrients (with exception of vitamin D – needs supplementation), immune-mediation factors, lactoferrins, oligosaccharides, and probiotics.
Whoa! What a lot of stuff!
The next best thing, obviously, is formula. Organic is probably better than non-organic. However, there are alternative types of formula available too if you choose not to go with cow’s-milk based formula.
There is now also goat’s-milk based formula; a suitable alternative which may in fact be closer to human milk in terms of protein-ratios, fat-types and other molecules such as lactoferrins and oligosaccharides; all very healthy for your child.
In fact, cow’s milk formula is often made with skimmed milk, and has whey protein and vegetable fats added to it while goat’s milk formulas often may not need the extra whey, and are only partially supplemented with vegetable oils.
Other viable alternatives may include soy formula. Or for infants with special conditions, specialty formulas.
First foods can include home-made purees. Avocado, green beans, asparagus, and other vegetables. I always recommend to go with veggies first; because ALL BABIES and PEOPLE (for that matter) tend to love their fruits more than their vegetables.
When your baby has turned into a toddler, I suggest giving him or her bite-size (finger-sized) pieces of whatever you are eating. No need to make special foods for your little one. He should learn to like the foods you like.
Infants and toddlers have this amazing ability to moderate their own appetites. So, if your child refuses to eat what you put in front of her one night, it might not be that she does not like the food, it could just be that she is not hungry.
Our pediatrician has even said, “If he doesn’t eat what you eat, put him to bed without eating.”
Look, your baby will eat when he is hungry. Trust me.
One day she will eat everything on her plate, even it was something she refused to eat the day before because she is hungry. The next day he might eat NOTHING you put in front of him, even if it was his favorite food the night before!
Through my trials and tribulations with my own son, I have learned that he will eat ONLY. WHEN. HE. WANTS. TO. or when he is hungry.
Making a special food for your child, which he may not eat anyway after the fact, or giving her something unhealthy just so that she will eat, adapts your child’s taste buds to less healthy fare.
Your child will not starve in 1 day if he/she does not eat a meal. But, you may be teaching unhealthy eating habits if night-after-night you tantalize your child’s taste buds with foods other than what you are eating.
As an expert in the field of nutrition, and a mom…I’ve learned that this works.
For more in-depth information, please refer to my e-book: The Perfect Baby Diet; available on Kindle.