Child Nutrition: Early Childhood

The adoption of proper child nutrition is the basis for development. Read below a professional’s tips for healthy eating.

In the developmental age, food tastes and preferences derive both from innate factors (genetics) and from learned and taught elements.

It is precisely in early childhood that the foundations for proper nutrition are laid.

Child Nutrition

Parents are the first source of inspiration for their children and represent a model to imitate? Even at the table!

Child nutrition 0-3 years

It is possible to group the feeding of children from 0-3 years of age in 5 phases, which always follow one after the other, taking into account the individuality of the child, his psychomotor development and his perception of tastes.

1 – From 0 to 6 months: milk at will!

The best and most complete food for a newborn is its mother’s milk.

Breast milk has a protective function for the baby’s nutrition, well-being and future health, in particular to cope with possible gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.

It reduces the future risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and provides positive factors for neurocognitive development.

Also for the mother, the breastfeeding period has positive effects: lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes, greater senile capacity to cope with osteoporosis, greater ease in regaining pre-pregnancy weight.

Lactancia materna

For all these reasons, the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, and the introduction of foods other than milk only after 6 months.

If it is not indicated to wait until the sixth month, following the advice of the pediatrician of reference.

Weaning can be started after the 17th week of the baby’s life (and in any case not after the 26th week).

Mother’s diet in child nutrition

WHO suggests that the breastfeeding woman should feel free to eat according to her own habits.

But if the mother notices that the consumption of certain foods causes discomfort to the baby, she can try to eliminate them from her diet.

In the case of a strict vegetarian diet, the breast milk produced may be deficient in vitamin B 12, so it will be necessary for the mother to take specific food supplements.

Mamá comiendo

Breastfeeding should continue during weaning and should be maintained as long as the mother and baby wish.

If breastfeeding is not possible, you can resort to formula milk, which, on the advice of your pediatrician, can meet your baby’s nutritional needs in the first months of life.

2 – From 6 to 12 months: the adventure begins!

At this stage, it is possible to offer solid foods to the baby because intestinal maturation is complete and neurological development allows him to grasp, chew and swallow food effectively.

However, the baby’s stomach must slowly become accustomed to digesting foods other than milk and the initial feeling of fullness may not lead him to finish the proposed meal.

Child Nutrition familia

Remember at this stage:

Offer, in addition to milk, natural water to quench thirst, avoiding sugary drinks.

Offer one new food at a time.

Use fresh seasonal vegetables.

Offer fruit between meals.

Do not use sugar and honey until the child is one year old.

Do not add salt to preparations until the first year of life.

Second solid food

Between 7 and 10 months, it is also possible to include the second solid food.

 Subsequently, move from creamy and semi-liquid foods to those of greater consistency, to stimulate the natural chewing of food.

The spoon

Between 10 and 15 months, the child has reached the dexterity to hold the spoon, being able to pick up food and, after countless attempts, to put it in the mouth.

bebé comida

Two main meals and two snacks

At 9-12 months of age, you should divide your child’s daily diet into two main meals (lunch and dinner) and one or two snacks.

It is important to remember that during these first months of weaning, if possible, breast milk should supplement the infant’s diet.

If you do not have it, you can choose follow-on milk, as it includes iron and essential fatty acids.

3 – After the first year: the watchword is “experimenting

After the first birthday, the child will have incorporated practically most foods into his or her diet, including cow’s milk.

ESPGHAN (European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition) experts recommend the introduction of cow’s milk from the first year of age.

Niño leche de vaca

In addition, we suggest that you do not consume whole cow’s milk in quantities greater than 200-400 ml/day, to avoid excessive protein intake.

The diet should follow the rules of proper nutrition, with little salt, no saturated fats and no added sugars.

4 – At 2 years of age

The child gradually consolidates the use of the spoon and cup and learns to feed himself.

However, you must be careful with autonomy to prevent the child from swallowing food that is too large for his swallowing capacity.

At this age, the child likes the division of the different dishes of the meal and abandons the one-dish meal (if you chose the “traditional” weaning).

5 – Child Nutrition: From 3 years of age

The child learns to hold the fork correctly, so it is also possible at this stage to introduce the knife with a rounded hard plastic tip.

In this phase children consolidate the bases of a healthy diet, given by a correct daily eating style.

The “building blocks” of our nutrition.

Energy for growth

In order to establish a balanced nutrition/diet, it is essential to take into account the energy and nutrient needs necessary for the child to grow up healthy.

During the first year of life, 85-90% of the calories introduced are used for growth and maintenance of functions, and only 10-15% for physical activity.

The child’s diet must ensure a nutritional balance that guarantees coverage of the minimum requirements, while avoiding excesses in relation to the child’s actual nutritional needs.


  • With adequate nutrition in early childhood, the seed of healthy nutrition is planted.
  • The feeding of children aged 0-3 years is divided into 5 phases, which consider their psychomotor development and their perception of tastes.
  • Do not rush to add new foods to the nutritional plan, each one takes time.
  • Parents are the example of children in early childhood, so it is important to rethink the eating habits of the whole family

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