Human mother's milk is ideal for human babies. The nutrients are produced in the right quantities and in the right form for the human baby to absorb. Mother's milk also provides antibodies which help protect against infection, it is at the right temperature and at the right concentration. There is not the same risk of infection in equipment or contaminated water supplies. Ideally a mother should breast-feed for at least 6 months.
In a very few cases proteins from food are transported intact into the mothers milk can cause a reaction in the baby. A baby with the coeliac condition may react to gluten from wheat in the mother's diet. Others may react to protein from cow's milk, and, very rarely, to protein from nuts.
A breast-feeding mother should ensure she has a diet rich in magnesium. Good sources are nuts, raisins and sultanas, banana, soya products. If she eats three meals based on whole meal starch and fruit or vegetables and one meal which includes a portion of protein each day, she should not lack any nutrients.
Formula milks based on modified cows milk must be made up to the exact concentration. A baby's kidneys can be immature and unable to excrete the waste products if there is insufficient liquid in the diet.
Unmodified cow's milk contains too much phosphorus ( as phosphates) for human infants and the calcium can be bonded to the fat and not be properly absorbed. This can result in low blood calcium levels and a risk of muscular spasms. Cow's milk is also particularly low in copper and iron.
Solid foods should not be introduced before 4 months old and wheat should be avoided until the infant is 9 months to a year old.
Start by introducing a puree of fruit or vegetables, served cold or just warm, after the milk feed. This can be mashed, ripe banana, apple, pear, or a puree of carrots, potatoes, leeks, cauliflower, parsnips or brown rice. The vegetables should be steamed until cooked with the minimum of water, and freshly prepared for each meal. Keep the meals simple, do not mix all the flavours together, and allow the young child time to taste and play with the new sensation of food.
Avoid giving the young child any highly flavoured or spiced food, and do not add salt or sugar when cooking or making the puree. Salt should not be added to infant diets as they cannot excrete the excess. Avoid also manufactured sauces and spreads such as tomato sauce which have a very high salt and sugar content.
When the young child starts to make chewing movements, small soft lumps of food can be included, but not hard foods like peanuts on which the child may choke.
A stick of carrot or apple should be given for the child to chew on, rather than a rusk.
Young children between the ages of 9 months and 3 1/2 years often absorb iron poorly from their food. Iron uptake is hindered by too much fibre in the diet.
Meals for the infant can include cooked egg yolk, and very finely minced or shredded meat. A very small amount of easily digested pulses such as lentils can be included, but avoid the hard-to-digest kidney beans and soya beans.