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Naturopathic Physician Website

Child Nutrition

Childhood Nutrition

Infants - Birth to 6 months:

Breast milk is the perfect food for your infant providing the appropriate quality, availability and quantities of protein, carbohydrates and fats. All milk is not created equal.

A comparison of cow's milk to breast milk:


Breast milk

Cow's milk

Protein: Casein/whey ratio, %kcal

10.5 gm/liter 40:60 7%

35 gm/liter 82:18 20%

Lactose: % of kcal

72 gm/liter 42%

49 gm/liter

Fat: Saturated, Polyunsat (LA)

39 gm/liter < predominant 4% of kcal


Infants - 6 months to 1 year

Over time your infant will become more able to reach for, swallow, digest and assimilate food. They will begin to show interest in table food and the food you are eating. In addition, teething usually begins at 6 to 9 months. When your infant has developed the fine gross and oral motor skills necessary to consume solid foods, they are ready for food introduction. This usually occurs at approximately 6 months. At this age, your infant's energy and nutrient requirements have increased and it begins to be necessary to offer supplemental foods to ensure adequate nutrition. Consult Dr. Chris' food introduction schedule for good guidelines about which foods to offer first.

Preschool Children - 1 to 6 years:

As your child grows and begins to eat more and more foods, the easiest way to ensure adequate nutrition is to maintain the diversity of the foods eaten. Unfortunately, somewhere between the ages of 9 and 18 months many children show a decreased interest in food, decreased appetite, dislike for any new or different food, and consume only a limited range of foods. Studies have shown that children will accept foods when they are not unusual. Therefore, the best way to maintain a diverse diet involves repeatedly offering new foods until your child is ready to accept them.

Providing healthy food choices, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, pure filtered water and unprocessed foods is the best way to support the normal growth and development of your child. If convenience foods, sweets and other nutrient-poor foods are offered, they will be readily accepted and preferred. Other foods, which are richer in nutrients might then be turned down and the overall nutrition of your child will be compromised.

* Remember: the food habits and preferences developed when your child is young will affect their dietary choices for the rest of their lives.

* The nutrients most likely to be low or deficient in this age group are iron, calcium, and vitamins B6 and C.

School-age Children - 7 to 10 years:

There are several factors which affect the food habits and intake of school-age children. Parents and siblings provide a model of food acceptance that strongly affects the choices children will make at mealtimes. A negative emotional environment at the table tends to decrease the nutrient intake of children. A comfortable, non-stressful setting is very important. The likes and dislikes established during the younger years are not permanent at this point in a child's development. If parents continue to offer the food in a non-judgmental fashion, and if a food dislike is not the focus of frequent negative attention, the child may still learn to accept and like the food.

Children often prepare their own snacks and the snacks they choose have been shown to provide as much as one third of their total energy intake for the day. It is important that healthy, easily prepared snack foods be available to children. Refer to the handout on Nutritious Snacks for Children.

Your child's activity level can vary greatly and is an important factor to consider in providing for their energy and nutrient requirements. Time spent in sedentary activities such as watching television and playing computer games encourages snacking and are believed to contribute to obesity and decreased fitness of school-age children. Physically active children will have higher energy and water requirements with amounts dependent on the intensity, duration and frequency of the activity.

Health promotion and disease prevention can begin in childhood. To help prevent heart disease, it is recommended that everyone over 2 years of age consume a diet of no more than 3-\0% of kcal from fat, with up to 10% from saturated fat and no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. Extremely low fat diets will threaten the amount of fat-soluble micronutrients consumed, but staying within the above guidelines allows optimal nutrition while preventing the development of heart disease.

The nutrients most likely to be low or deficient in this age group are calcium, iron, vitamins A, B6, and C.

The following table outlines the protein and energy requirements of your growing child:



Energy intake

Grams Protein







per day

per kg


0-6 mos 6-12 mos

650 850

108 98

13 14

2.2 1.6




102 90 70

16 24 28

1.2 1.2 1.




Alternative to Dairy




Soy Milk Rice Milk Almond Milk Amasake (cultured Rice Drink) Goat's Milk, Homemade Nut or seed Milks


Soy Cheese Almond Cheese Brazil Nut Cheese Homemade Nut or Seed Cheese Nutritional Yeast


Safflower Oil Olive Oil Nut Butters such as cashew, tahini, etc.

Ice Cream

Rice Dream Fruit Sorbets Fresh or Frozen Fruit Smoothies Juice Popsicles


Soy Yogurt Goat Yogurt


Tofu Mayonnaise Tofu Sour Cream


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