Role of Early Nutrition on Shaping Kids’ Cognitive and Physical Development

Subject: Healthy Nutrition
Pages: 21
Words: 5844
Reading time:
21 min
Study level: PhD

The harmonious development of children associated with a variety of factors, of which nutrition plays a key role in this process. The normal physical and mental development of a child depends on the quality and quantity of food intake. Food provides the children’s body with the necessary energy, which is necessary for the functioning of all important processes and the proper functioning of all body systems.

The role of nutrition in the development of the child is especially important during the growth period, when structural processes occur in the body, and metabolism is most intense. In order to maintain immunity in general and enrich the body with the so-called building material, protein, carbohydrates, fats and nutrients are essential. More to the point, organic food is considered to be much more beneficial for children compared to traditional and refined products. This paper aims to explore the impact of early nutrition on the physical and cognitive development of children aged between 6 months and 18 years.

Current Problem

The existing problems related to child nutrition comprise diabetes, obesity and allergies. In the US, one- third of children are considered to be overweight and obese, which is associated with high health risks and costs of treatment. In the UK, 75% of children of 10-11 ages exceed the daily amount of recommended fats (Mahan et al., 2016). At the same time, many children tend to eat less than it is suggested by guidelines. The levels of sugar and fat are often increased, while the consumption of fruits and vegetables remain low. The way children eat largely affects their eating choices in adulthood, which is likely to cause additional challenges.

The development of childhood illnesses can be expressed in terms of physical health risks: coronary heart disease, gall stones and others. Low self-esteem and mood, body dissatisfaction and anxiety compose the main psychological complications of obesity. Children with excessive weight have the threat of being bullied by their peers, leading to a lack of friends and underachievement.

Among other comorbid conditions of childhood obesity, there is diabetes: 80% of children with this disease are obese. Diabetes is a disease that is characterised by a chronic increase in glucose, and it is the first among all endocrine diseases in children. In children, this disease is relatively acute and without appropriate treatment, as a rule, it acquires a severe, progressive course. Such progression of diabetes in children occurs due to the intensive growth of the child’s body and, accordingly, augmented metabolism (“Australian Dietary Guidelines,” 2013). There are a number of risk factors that contribute to the development of the disease, while the presence of one or more risk factors significantly increases risks. In particular, mothers with diabetes, birth weight over 4.5 kg and other metabolic disorders, including hypothyroidism and obesity, are the most alarming factors.

In addition, one should pay attention to hypertension and food allergies that mainly appear as a result of improper nutrition. As reported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 10% of children aged between 8 and 17 years had borderline hypertension (8%) and hypertension (2%) in 2009-2012 (“Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020,” 2015). Along with obesity, allergic diseases compose another epidemic of the XXI century: the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 50 million Americans have an allergy of one or more types (“Australian Dietary Guidelines,” 2013).

Namely, 4-6% of children develop allergy, and it can occur towards the foods that were eaten before without any problems (Mahan et al., 2016). The reaction appears when a child’s immune system overreacts to a substance in food considering it to be dangerous, which can be expressed in itchiness, redness, and even anaphylaxis that is marked by dyspnoea and a rapid glucose drop. Among the common allergic foods, there are milk, eggs, fish, wheat, peanuts, soy and tree nuts. Some food triggers may cause the response to other products, trees and grass, which is called cross-reactivity.

Significance of Healthy Organic Food for Kids (6 Months -18 Years)

The product of farming, organic food implemented in early childhood nutrition is the solution suggested by many official guidelines and research. The Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) defines organic food as the food that was produced without the use of pesticides, irradiation, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and man-made fertilisers. It is a new approach to nutrition, which is based on the assumption that organic foods have more nutrients, less heavy metals along with pesticides, and are friendlier to the environment (“Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020,” 2015).

Organic farming carefully monitors and manages the whole process of production to avoid veterinary medicines and promote biodiversity. The standards applied by organic farmers ensure that meat and vegetables contain no or minimal chemicals, which contributes to healthy nutrition. In other words, not only what is given to a child to feed him or her but also where and how it was grown matter.

It is widely accepted and evidence-based solution that infants up to six months are recommended to receive nutrients from breast milk, if possible, or formula. Being a biological fluid, mothers’ own milk has such benefits as immune ontogeny and intestinal function. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clarifies that infant formula selected by parents should meet its standards. After six months, babies need much more energy and grow quickly, which means that they need more nutrients. As stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), infants should be given nutritionally-rich and safe foods and continue to be breastfed.

The complementary food should be introduced in small amounts and involve a variety of products: fish, vegetables meat and poultry. In order to ensure safety, they should have mashed, pureed or semi-solid consistency up to 8 months. The so-called finger foods can be offered to toddlers after their 8 months, and beginning from 12 months, they can eat the majority of the foods consumed by the family.

The introduction of solid food may be seen as an experiment for parents and their children aged six months and more. As recommended by the healthcare professionals, solid foods should not replace breast milk or formula yet supplement them. Mother milk or produced milk still brings significant benefits to a toddler’s health, serving as the predominant source of nutrition. The importance of solid food lies in need for more energy and vitamins for the rapidly growing body of a child, and the additional dietary intake increases the necessary levels of iron and zinc. It should also be stressed that solid food promotes the interest in new perceptions and discoveries.

The babies learn the mechanisms of chewing, swallowing, and transferring food to the back of the mouth. In general, lots of practice with solid food lay the foundation for mastering the eating process. The details related to physical and cognitive development will be discussed further in this paper.

One of the key principles of toddler nutrition recommended by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is that it is not appropriate to solely rely on formulated milk without solid food for six months old kids. To grow and develop physically and mentally, they need a variety of foods to explore the world and learn. Different flavours, shapes and colours stimulate and surprise them to explore new ways of eating (“Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020,” 2015).

The new features are to be taken into account: not only the addition and expansion of the spectrum of dietary nutrients, the formation of neuro-reflex coordination of swallowing, chewing, the influence on gastrointestinal motility, but also the importance in the formation of taste and sensory perception are essential. The transition from predominantly lipid-type food to carbohydrate identifies the way the complementary foods impact the state of the microbiota. This fact serves as the basis for the inclusion of pre- and probiotics in the complementary foods, which allows considering them in terms of the concept of functional nutrition.

Responsive feeding is the practice defined as the direct feeding of infants and assistance to older children with this process. It is significant to feed slowly and attentively, while encouraging kids to eat yet avoiding forcing them to do so. In case children refuse to eat, it is suggested to experiment with combining different foods. The eye to eye contact and patience are two benefits of feeding a child, which can make the process of eating more pleasurable and emotionally important. Responsive feeding remains essential in the course of raising children up to the age of 18. While the eating behaviours tend to evolve during the first years of life, they observe and copy parents’ approaches to eating. Therefore, they should act as role models and regulators of this process, paying attention to individual characteristics of their child: age, gender, weight, and any diseases. For instance, if they want their toddlers to eat more fruits and vegetables, they need to increase personal consumption of these foods.

The properly-developed eating patterns reinforced by parents during the first years of life determine how children would eat in their adolescence and adulthood. The period between prenatal care and early years is regarded as the best one to shape health nutrition patterns for the entire life of a person. For children aged 2-5, it is important to guide them in nutrition and offer some choices about how and what to eat. Children between aged 6 and 12 usually have the established eating patterns, and it is possible to anticipate further health issue or a lack thereof. Adolescents, who are aged from 13 to 19, are largely defined as the time of discovery, frustration and disorientation, which requires responsiveness to foods. Instead of focusing on snacks and fast food, which can easily lead to obesity and other food-related problems, healthy nutrition presents opportunities for avoiding weight issues, low self-esteem and depression.

Healthy Eating Patterns

In order to better understand the concept of healthy nutrition, it seems to be essential to investigate its patterns. According to the USDA, there are three fundamental patterns that support healthy body weight and decrease the onset of chronic diseases. First, the national guidelines regarding nutrition are to be met predominantly form food. The provision of organic food for 6 months-18 years kids is essential to nutrient-dense forms, including minerals, vitamins and dietary fibre, present in the daily ration (“Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020,” 2015). Second, the totality of beverages and foods should be taken into account while considering calories, added sugars, saturated fats, et cetera. Third, healthy eating patterns are adjustable so that individuals can modify them in consistence with their specific cultural and social preferences. This set of patterns is particularly important for the period of growth and development that are marked by a decisive role for the entire life of a person.

Today, there is the increased the number of children over the age of two years with an excessive body mass index (BMI) and the risk of developing obesity. In this regard, it is critical to avoid increased protein intake both with the formula and complementary foods, with caution to introduce high-protein dairy products. Protein intake of meat products is not associated with the higher accumulation of adipose tissue at an older age. Self-feeding also impacts the formulation of the right taste habits that can serve as obesity prevention across the lifespan. As a first feeding, children at risk for obesity with adequate natural feeding are prescribed milk-free porridge enriched with iron or vegetable puree (broccoli, cauliflower). Those who receive artificial feeding from five months, in addition to these products, can have the fruit component.

Role of Organic Foods at an Early Age in Terms of Psychological and Physical Wellbeing

The review of the reliable literature makes it clear that there is a range of reasons to ensure that lids eat organic food from their early ages. The evidence shows that the body of children in the first years of life is rather vulnerable to various allergens and toxins, which are often contained in chemical nutritional supplements. The studies found the link between the increased number of children with obesity and diet changes with plentiful chemical components. One may assume that child health directly depends on food quality since it is the building material for the tissues and organs of the body. Eating one or another food product not only provides nutrition but also good health, appropriate development and well-being for the entire life.

The first reason for choosing organic, non-GMO food for a kid is to minimise the exposure to pesticides and other additives. The recent report by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) revealed that one of the most widely used pesticides, glyphosate, is carcinogenic, which definitely makes it unsafe for children (“Glyphosate and cancer risk: Frequently asked questions,” 2015). The key difference between organic products and conventional ones is the firm standards not only to the quality of their production technology and ingredients but also to the environments in which raw materials for their manufacture were obtained.

In particular, natural conditions and ecologically friendly regions, which are located far from big cities, industrial zones and highways, are the favoured areas for the production of raw materials for organic products. In plant growing, only non-pickled seeds and genetically unmodified variabilities can be utilised. In addition, plants grow naturally, without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilisers, growth stimulants and other means aimed to protect them from diseases. In order to control pests, their natural biological enemies and ultrasound can be applied

The second reason for buying organic foods for child nutrition lies in avoiding artificial colours and preservatives to prevent behavioural challenges. In order to obtain the organic status, the respective products undergo the strictest quality control according to the European Union Regulation on Organic Production and Labelling of Organic Products. More to the point, control is provided by authorised state services along with manufacturers’ laboratories.

This allows keeping organic food fresher, which is also beneficial for child body. As a rule, organic food is growing small amounts near the areas it is sold on. It is, however, should be kept in mind that the foods labelled “local” or “natural” do not mean to be organic, which is used by the marketing goals of companies. Only an organic certificate can guarantee that one bought an organic product. The most famous certificates are the EU list for the EU countries and the USDA for the US. While some organic standards also exist at the local level of some countries, so it makes sense to focus on international regulations.

More to the point, it should be stated that the taste and higher nutritional value are two factors that distinguish organic products. Averagely, there are 50% more vitamins in organic foods, including antioxidants, nutrients, minerals and biologically active substances in comparison to products made using traditional technologies. In addition, the specifics of organic agricultural production contribute to the increase of dry substances in vegetables and fruits, while the water decreases, which enhances the taste of organic purees made from them. Organic products are also smaller in size (~ 40%) and likely to retain beneficial properties longer than conventional products.

They must be eaten for the prevention of such diseases as alimentary-dependent conditions (anaemia), allergies, endocrine and immune systems disorders and oncological diseases. The advantage of organics is proved to handle antibiotic-resistant forms of bacteria and reduce the residual chemical (including pesticide) load on the child’s body.

The issue of changing the family’s eating behaviours is one of the most challenging. The experiments are also in favour of organic nutrition, when families transplanted from ordinary products to pure organic ones. A decrease in the level of pesticides and heavy metals in the organisms of the subjects was noticeable after several weeks. The changes for the better in the samples of blood and urine tests in children were especially indicative. In other words, one may state that products from trusted manufacturers, such as small farms, are better than others, and it is more reliable to feed a child of the first years of life with certified organic food.

Calorie balance is another positive outcome that is associated with organic food consumption in childhood and adolescence. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans claim that by maintaining calorie balance, one can sustain a healthy weight and avoid related diseases. The fact is that organic food presents the way to eat in a balanced manner since there are no added sugars, high sodium and refined grains. The consumption of nutrient-dense products can be comfortably achieved through organic foods, including lean meats, eggs, nuts, low-fat milk, and so on. To obtain more potassium, vitamins D and C, calcium, dietary fibre and other vital nutrients, children should eat organic vegetables and fruits. Accordingly, the natural result of organic food consumption is the diet with properly balanced calories.

Speaking more precisely of the psychological benefits of organic food consumption, one should emphasise that a lack of proper nutrition leads to an adverse outcome in terms of development. The deficits of nutrients impede memory capacity and brain functioning in general. Cusick and Georgieff (2016) mention that the gold opportunity of the first 1000 days is the period that promotes cognitive and social development trajectories, and optimal nutrition largely determines the brain regulation. Children of yearly ages are regarded as particularly vulnerable to poor parental eating patterns. On the contrary, organic food is likely to increase the child’s IQ by 10% (Cusick & Georgieff, 2016). For the latter, zinc, iodine and iron, the most prevalent nutrients, should be obtained from foods and beverages.

Daily Food Intake Portion Size and Calories

The nutrition of children should fully meet the needs of their body functions. Quantitative insufficiency and quality inferiority equally affect the physical and cognitive development of children: due to the high intensity of metabolic processes, an increased basic metabolism is noted. Children under the age of 1 year are allocated in a special group since the intensity of metabolic processes during the first year of life changes rapidly, and this leads to different needs for basic nutrients.

Recommended portion sizes for children
Table 1. Recommended portion sizes for children (Mahan & Raymond, 2016).

When building diets for children older than a year, it is necessary to take into account the physiological characteristics and the nature of metabolic processes at this age. First of all, in the second year of life, the chewing apparatus develops, which makes it possible to introduce into the diet solid foods. In addition, at this age, the enzymatic function of the digestive glands develops further, taste perceptions differentiate, and the processes of digestion and assimilation of food improve. The need for basic nutrients and energy is different for children aged 2-18. Due to enhanced metabolic processes and increased energy consumption associated with the development of the vigorous motor activity of the child, the need for basic nutrients becomes higher.

Estimated calorie needs per day for children
Table 2. Estimated calorie needs per day for children (“Appendix 2. Estimated calorie needs per day, by age, sex and physical activity level,” n.d.).

As it can be seen from the given tables, some foods can provide a child with lots of calories, leaving no room for other, more wholesome meals, and it should be the principle of food choice for children (Table 1 and Table 2). Children’s nutritional standards should be clearly defined – the required number of calories for children should come daily from meat, vegetable, fish and cereal dishes, and not be for sweets and pastries. As for infants and toddlers, they need a small quantity of calories per day, so the child may well eat three tablespoons of porridge. It is strongly recommended to avoid overfeeding as it can lead to overweight.

Dose for Daily Nutrients

The role of vitamins and minerals that enter the children’s body with food cannot be overestimated. They regulate metabolic processes, contribute to the protective function of the body and participate in the processes of growth and development. The kids’ bodies should receive the whole set of vitamins, but there are three age categories in which a certain group of vitamins plays an important role. Up to 3 years of age, the most important are vitamins A, D and C, which provide quality of vision, growth of the whole organism and support of immunity (Mahan et al., 2016). From 3 to 8, the period of the most intensive growth of all bone tissues passes, and sufficient amounts of vitamin D and calcium are vital. In the period of 12-16 years, children experience hormonal changes and rapid emotional changes. At this age, special attention should be paid to B vitamins, which stabilise the nervous system and vitamin C to maintain the desired level of energy.

The increased basal metabolic rate and energy needs in children make it crucial to pay special attention to the rather high level of protein and calories in the composition of food diets. The physiological nutritional standards of children are given in Table 3. The daily requirement for proteins, fats, carbohydrates and calories of children and adolescents should satisfy these requirements. Proteins in the diet are indispensable, and primarily they are the building material for the growth and development of the child’s body.

They are part of each cell, participating in the transfer of necessary substances throughout the body and being responsible for the formation of immunity, muscle growth and nervous system support. In other words, for the full and harmonious development, a kid must necessarily receive the stated amount of protein. Among the useful sources of protein, there are eggs, meat, fish, dairy products, poultry, legumes and nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts). Insufficient protein intake can lead to a slowdown, imbalance and serious violations in the development of the child’s body.

Carbohydrates provide the body with energy, which especially significant for children who lead a dynamic lifestyle, play a lot, study intensively and attend a variety of courses. Also, carbohydrates contribute to the expenditure of proteins for their primary purpose, serving as the transportation means. The main sources of carbohydrates that parents of children should pay attention to are cereals, whole grains as well as raw vegetables and fruits, which are rich in fibre.

Excess in carbohydrates in the diet negatively affect the health of the child, and the main harm is triggered by an increase in the amount of simple sugars, which normally should be only 20% of the total carbohydrates in the daily menu of the child. In addition, part of the excess carbohydrates turns into fats, causing possible metabolic disorders, the development of obesity, immunity weakening and growth and overall development retardation.

Certain types of fats are essential for the development of the child’s body and psychological wellbeing, especially the nervous system. They also play a great role in the formation of childhood immunity through delivering such fat-soluble vitamins as A, E, D and K. to the body (Mahan et al., 2016). The polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, are indispensable and should be obtained with food as they are not synthesised in the body. The sources of beneficial fats include marine fatty fish, unrefined vegetable oils, sesame, walnut, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, spinach, sprouted wheat and so on.

The parents are recommended to pay special attention to healthy oil, of which sunflower, olive, corn, mustard, and linseed oils are widespread. All these oils should be used in an unrefined form since during processing they lose some of the valuable substances contained in them: phosphatides, unsaturated fatty acids, et cetera (“Dietary recommendations for healthy children,” 2018). Due to the fact that the composition of cotton and soybean oil contains harmful substances, they should be used only in the refined form as in this case, the oils are freed from damaging components. There is almost no vitamin A in vegetable oils, but some of them are rich in carotene. Thus, fats, which give twice as many calories as proteins and carbohydrates, can reduce the amount of food and improve its taste.

Recommended dietary allowances
Table 3. Recommended dietary allowances (Mahan & Raymond, 2016).

Nutrition of Kids with Diabetes

Although the modern medicine develops rapidly, there is no exact answer to the question about the causes of diabetes. However, it is reliably known that the risk of developing diabetes can be inherited if the family members have an increased predisposition to this disease. As for the excessive consumption of sweets, there is no scientific evidence that this can lead to diabetes in a child (Mahan et al., 2016). On the other hand, this can accelerate the onset of the disease; therefore, in families where there are patients with diabetes, children are not recommended to eat a lot of sweets. While diabetes was regarded as the disease of older adults earlier, it tends to become younger and can develop in a kid of any age.

The nutrition of a sick child occupies an important place in the treatment of diabetes, and it should meet all the requirements that currently apply to the nutrition of a healthy child: the diet should be as balanced for all important ingredients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vitamins). The compliance with this condition allows children with diabetes to grow and develop normally. At the same time, a special diet eliminates the carbohydrate load and, thereby, facilitates the course and treatment of diabetes.

The most imperative factor is the ability of various organic substances to be absorbed by the body. For example, protein and protein shakes are almost completely absorbed, which means the body receives the necessary dose of nutrients and functions correctly. Digestibility also depends on the individual characteristics of the body, habits, lifestyle and even the region of residence.

Healthy, organic and well-nourished food is a viable way to help the child with diabetes in managing this disease. In particular, it is useful in maintaining blood glucose level low and reducing health risks in adulthood. The regular visits a paediatrician and dietitian should be conducted to design the diet, yet it is the responsibility of parents to provide nutrition in practice. It is of great importance to avoid pressure on the child, who had already faced food restrictions.

Instead, cooking with kids and planning meals in advance in cooperation is regarded as the most preferable way to adjust the nutrition of a child with diabetes. In case parents have a kid who can be characterised as the so-called fussy eater, the situation becomes even more serious. While they tried to feed the child with broccoli for giving him or her vegetables, it is about managing insulin dose and the amount and type of food to be eaten to prevent hypoglycaemia.

To create the opportunities for a child to lead a habitual life, it is important that he, she or parents learn the basic rules of self-control: conduct regular tests for blood glucose (glycaemia), urine (glycosuria), adhere to diet and physical activity. Depending on the circumstances, they should change the dose of insulin. For each child, the dose of insulin and foods are selected individually. The task of caregivers is to teach the child to correctly collect the right amount of insulin and make an injection. Glucose control is necessary as the only way to determine whether the dose of insulin is sufficient, whether to change it or nutrition during the disease. Competent self-monitoring allows the child not to feel like a stranger in a company of children or among classmates. Table 5 presents the suggested maximum of sugar intake by children.

Age Recommended Sugar Intake
0-4 Avoid added sugars and sweetened drinks
4-6 No more than 19g (5 sugar cubes)
7-10 No more than 23g (6 sugar cubes)
11-18 No more than 25g (6 teaspoons)

Table 4. Recommended sugar intake for healthy children (“Sugars intake for adults and children,” 2015).

In diabetes, parents and children are limited to the use of products and meals, such as bakery products made from wheat flour, potatoes and cereals. Porridge is to be given to the child no more than once a day, using coarse grains (oat, corn) for their preparation. Rice, semolina and pasta must be used in limited quantities; eating bread should not exceed 100g per day; vegetables (everything except potatoes) can be offered to a child without restrictions (“Diabetes diet, eating, & physical activity,” 2018). Moreover, meals from various vegetables should be a significant part of the daily diet of children.

Fruits and berries, unsweetened varieties of apples, black currants and cherries are widely included in the diet for diabetes. Occasionally, citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines), strawberries, strawberries, raspberries can also be offered to a child with diabetes, yet it is preferable to consume fruits raw and in the form of drinks without sugar or using its substitutes.

Fatty, spicy and salty sauces along with sweet gravy should be excluded from the menu. If the child does not have diabetes-related liver diseases, it is allowed to add a small amount of onion to the food as seasoning. It is necessary to feed a child with diabetes 5-6 times a day and more often (“Diabetes diet, eating, & physical activity,” 2018). In view of this, when compiling a diet, the family’s nutrition should be taken into account: the hours and volume of each meal and the child’s eating habits. The nutritional composition of the child should be agreed with the doctor who is observing the child.

The general recommendation for the nutrition of a child with diabetes include reducing the intake of fruit juices and high sugar drinks, giving preference to water, sugar-free drinks and diet drinks; remember about carbohydrates, without which the amount of insulin can cause blood sugar to drop too low. Fast food and processed foods should be limited significantly, and vegetables are to be prioritised to provide the body with the essential nutrients.

Food Allergy

Along with obesity, are allergic diseases among children is an alarming condition that change the life of the child and the whole family drastically. The most common foods that trigger allergy are eggs, milk and its products and peanuts (Table 5). In the US, there are six million children who have one or several types of allergy, which causes nasal congestion, rhinitis, ear infections and even Quincke’s oedema with the possibility of subsequent suffocation, if timely help is not provided (Mahan et al., 2016).

Often, children outgrow reactions to milk, peanuts and some other foods; however, treatment is essential. In some cases, of left untreated, nasal congestion may lead to inadequate growth of bones in the nose and teeth. Asthma is a complication that may develop with allergy, and its management should be conducted not only at home but also school. Physical education lessons should be adjusted to the needs of the child, while dust irritation and contacts with school pets should be limited.

In babies, allergies are mainly caused by milk, eggs, wheat, barley, rice, oats, soy, beans, peas, bananas, fish and beef. The main allergens for preschool and school children are nuts and almonds. Fruits, including peaches, kiwi and apples, and vegetables (paprika, tomatoes, potatoes, celery, et cetera) can also cause allergies. In teenagers, allergies are often caused by nuts and almonds, as well as spices (pepper, caraway seeds, cinnamon, mustard and so on). If allergic manifestations occur before the age of three, in most cases they pass later.

Soy protein-based breast-feeding mixtures are widespread, but about 25% of children who are allergic to cow’s milk cannot tolerate soy protein. For allergies to cow’s milk, all foods containing milk and dairy products, such as butter, ice cream and cottage cheese, should be excluded. To prevent complications, the composition of the product indicated on the package should be carefully studied. With an allergy to wheat flour, a person is allergic to the proteins contained in wheat. Most wheat allergy sufferers should also avoid contact with related cereal varieties, such as rye, barley and spelt. Gluten-free diet corresponds to the diet used for patients with intestinal celiac disease.

The main traditional areas of allergy prevention in domestic paediatric practice include prolonged natural feeding, delaying the timing of complementary foods, the use of hypoallergenic diets and the consumption of a wide range of hypoallergenic products. It is necessary to start complementary foods for children up to a year with hypoallergenic products. The introduction of complementary foods to children at risk of developing allergic diseases may begin with a product line selection. These are one-component vegetable purees (cauliflower, broccoli), dry dairy-free cereals (buckwheat, rice), juices (apple, pear), meat purees (rabbit, turkey) and fruit purees (pear, apple).

Most common food allergies
Table 5. Most common food allergies (Leonard, Pecora, Fiocchi, & Nowak-Wegrzyn, 2018).

Currently, special attention is paid to the problem of celiac disease in children. In the US, the traditionally earlier appointment of gluten-containing complementary foods – 5% semolina was positioned previously. Subsequently, the timing of the appointment of gluten-containing complementary foods in domestic recommendations was delayed to eight to ten months and 12 months of a child’s life. According to new data from the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN), the European Association of Pediatric Gastroenterologists, Hepatologists and Nutritionists suggests that the introduction of gluten administration does not affect the subsequent development of celiac disease. However, the late introduction of gluten can push back the period of its manifestation. In the absence of convincing evidence in order to reduce the risk of developing celiac disease, it is advisable to avoid both early (up to four months) and late (after seven months) gluten administration.


To conclude, it should be stated that childhood is a period of growth that can be considered the paramount stage in establishing a person’s cognitive and physical health. Today, the considerable interest is associated with the role of healthy organic nutrition and children’s mental and physical conditions, which is especially important in terms of the high incidence of foodborne diseases. In particular, childhood obesity leads to problems not only in aesthetics and self-esteem but also in serious consequences for the body: the risk of many diseases is directly proportional to the amount of excess weight. Diabetes, heart issues, gastrointestinal tract and reproductive dysfunction arise when diet is not followed. Over the past years, concern for the state of the body has begun to become alarming: more and more calls are made by the government and public organisations for organic products.

In the course of this paper, it was revealed that organic food for early child nutrition presents a variety of benefits. The consumption of organic foods promotes physical health, providing support for immunity, vision, neurologic and their systems of the body. At the same time, cognitive wellbeing of children largely depends on the quality and quantity of foods and drinks offered by parents. A fast-growing body needs carbohydrates just as much as proteins and fats. Deficiency and excess of any of the substances can lead to a number of health problems, which makes it clear that parents need to provide their child a balanced diet.

Special attention to eating patterns of the family should be paid to children who are at risk of obesity, diabetes and allergy development. The paper also presents tables with the recommended daily intake of calories, nutrients and sugar.


Appendix 2. Estimated calorie needs per day, by age, sex, and physical activity level. (n.d.). Web.

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Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. (2015). Web.

Dietary recommendations for healthy children. (2018). Web.

Glyphosate and cancer risk: Frequently asked questions. (2015). Web.

Leonard, S. A., Pecora, V., Fiocchi, A. G., & Nowak-Wegrzyn, A. (2018). Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome: A review of the new guidelines. World Allergy Organization Journal, 11(4), 1-9.

Mahan, L. K., & Raymond, J. L. (2016). Krause’s food & the nutrition care process. 14th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.

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