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Kid's Health

The Health of Your Infant/Toodler

Infant/Toddler Health
Posted by Tara White on Monday, October 17, 2011

The first 3 years of life are the most critical to a childs development. Your baby needs lots of love, nuturing and affection. This is the time to really bond with your child through hugs, kisses and talking.

The term 'newborn' is usually applied to children between the ages of 1 month and 12 months. In general contexts, a newborn is an infant who is within hours, days, or up to a few weeks from birth. In medical contexts, newborn or neonate refers to an infant in the first 28 days of life (less than a month old). The term "newborn" includes premature infants, postmature infants and full term newborns. Toddlers are generally vaguely defined as a child between 1 and 2 years, and generally signifies a child who can walk but who can not walk well.

Infants cry as a form of basic instinctive communication. A crying infant may be trying to express a variety of feelings including hunger, discomfort, overstimulation, boredom, wanting something, or loneliness.

Breastfeeding is the recommended method of feeding by all major infant health organizations. If breastfeeding is not possible or desired, bottle feeding is done with expressed breast-milk or with infant formula. Infants are born with a sucking reflex allowing them to extract the milk from the nipples of the breasts or the nipple of the baby bottle, as well as an instinctive behavior known as rooting with which they seek out the nipple. Sometimes a wet nurse is hired to feed the infant, although this is rare, especially in developed countries.

As infants grow, food supplements are added. Many parents choose commercial, ready-made baby foods to supplement breast milk or formula for the child, while others adapt their usual meals for the dietary needs of their child. Whole cow's milk can be used at one year, but lower-fat milk should not be provided until the child is 2 to 3 years old. Until they are toilet-trained, infants in industrialized countries wear diapers. Children need more sleep than adults—up to 18 hours for newborn babies, with a declining rate as the child ages. Until babies learn to walk, they are carried in the arms, held in slings or baby carriers, or transported in baby carriages or strollers. Most industrialized countries have laws requiring child safety seats for infants in motor vehicles.

Food provides the energy and nutrients a baby or toddler needs to be healthy. For a baby, breast milk has all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Infant formulas imitate breast milk. For children younger than 2, up to 50 percent of calories should come from fat. Whole milk is a good source of fat after age 1. You can switch to low-fat milk after age 2 or 3.

Some other things to watch for:

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