An infant’s nutritional needs are very different from those of an adult. Unlike with adults – who are usually advised to have less fat and lower amounts of cholesterol in their diet – it is recommended that from when a baby begins solid foods until the age of about 2 years, his or her diet should include only full-fat milk or whole milk yogurts, cheeses etc.
Why is fat important in my baby’s diet?
- Your baby will be growing very rapidly during the first 12 months – possibly tripling his or her birth weight and growing up to 25cm (10 inches) in length – and to support this growth rate your baby will need plenty of calories, which must come from fats.
- Fats are also very important for brain development in your baby, as 60% of the brain and the sheaths surrounding the nerves are composed of fat.
- Early on, your breast milk or the formula milk that you give your baby will supply the amount of fats needed. When you introduce solid foods it is important that any dairy products are whole milk varieties to provide the extra fats that your baby’s body requires. They will also be supplying extra calcium.
- And don’t forget – because your baby’s stomach is very small it can only take small volumes at each meal, so to be sure that his or her nutritional requirements are met, the small amounts of foods you give need to be really rich in calories.
When can my baby have cow’s milk?
Cow’s milk should not be given as a main drink before your baby’s first birthday as it is too low in iron, and sometimes not easy to digest. Also, the protein in cow’s milk could trigger an allergic reaction. After one year of age it is OK to give cow’s milk as a main drink.