The food and fluids that are provided to an infant can be the cornerstone of their future health and wellbeing. Also the experience of different tastes and textures during the early years can enable a child to be more willing to eat a wide variety of foods.
This article aims to provide a general overview on nutrition for babies and infants for the first year of life.
Birth to six months
The optimum and natural way of feeding babies is breast milk and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all babies are exclusively breast fed for the first six months to achieve the best level of development and health.1
Breast milk provides a range of nutrients to support the baby and varies in composition. It also varies in composition over time with the first milk, called colostrum, providing antibodies to support the infant’s immune system. As well as changing in composition over time, breast milk also changes in composition during a feed – the milk available at the start of a feed is more dilute, providing the baby with extra fluids, whereas that at the end of a feed is richer in energy and nutrients.