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Introduction

Beginning from birth, children require nutritional meals to not only develop but also maintain a healthy life.  Young children in the first year are called infants but as they enter the second year and become more mobile, they are called toddlers from one to three years of age. This essay will explain why adequate nutritional needs are important for infants and toddlers.

Importance of nutrition for infants

For infants, nutrition is important due to the fact that before birth they were used to get nourishment from their mothers' and were protected by the mothers' immune system through an umbilical cord transmission. Good nutrition will result in determining a child's physical and mental condition. Thus proper nutrition plays a significant role in infant's health and growth. The act of feeding an infant is an important emotional development between the kid and its parents especially when the mother breastfeeds the baby, she bonds with the child and will foster a connection (Infant nutrition).

All professional and world health organizations agree that breast milk is the recommended best method of feeding an infant. The mother's breast milk within the first year reduces risk of post neonatal death and prevents. The baby needs to set the best platform for a healthy foundation for life and breastfeeding is the best possibility during this time. Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of childhood obesity and also decrease future risk for cardiovascular disease and even diabetes mellitus. For breastfeeding kids, they are exposed to wider variety of tastes through their mother's milk and will appear to later accept a wider variety of new foods than the formula-fed infants do. This is because breast milk is nutritionally superior and contains anti-bodies that reduce the risk of infection for the infant. Breastfeeding also reduces infant mortality and morbidity rates in less industrialized countries. There is also evidence that suggest that breastfed children have a high intelligence scores at around 18 months (Infant nutrition).   

If breastfeeding is not possible, then there are a range of infant formulas that will ensure that the infant has the best alternative from breast milk. Most governments have developed nutrient standard for commercial formulas for infants. This is to ensure that the formula has nutrients similar to that of breast milk. Most of these formulas are made from cow's milk or soy and have to meet an infant's nutritional requirements. They come both in low-iron and iron-fortified form. Infants feed between 8-12 times a day and as they add more weight, they will take more at each feeding and increase the number of feeding per day (Infant nutrition).

As the baby approaches his/her first birth day, they have undergone an intensive period of growth and transformation in their lives. Giving the baby right foods at stage will ensure that the kid has a healthy transition from infancy into adulthood. This is because the child in the second year, will be exploring the world under her/his own steam and thus supporting the kid during this time in toddlerhood requires the right nutritional foundation with a variety of foods from the four major food groups (Child development and food nutrition).

The child should be fed food that will help him/her in height and weight during toddlerhood, slow gains and weight are quiet normal at an average of 2-3kg per year. During bones and muscles also grow during this time and healthy development of bones and muscles are crucial for child development. Growing bones need calcium with a balanced healthy nutrition. The child also develops milk teeth by 2.5 years which also entails a healthy diet. Toddler-hood is time for active learning and encountering new experiences, good health nutrition is especially needed for brain and nervous development in the right stimulation. Lastly but not least, is providing a well balanced healthy diet to the child to supply blood with nutrients and oxygen to a child's cells as s/he grows and develop new skills (Child development and food nutrition).   

Conclusion

Although children are born with different characteristics that they inherit from their parents, a proper nutrition plays a significant role in their growth and development. Infants should be well nourished both emotionally and physically. Breastfeeding is especially important for infants. Toddlers also need to be fed a well balanced  as this is the time they are developing in several aspects of life; weight and height, teeth, bones and muscles, brain and blood. Thus good nutritional needs will go a long way to ensure a good and healthy growing child.

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