I’m sure that you heard about Metabolism.
You know – The process which people blame their weight gain on.
“I put on weight not because I ate too much, but because of slow metabolism.”
From Womb to World, a baby undergoes metabolic adaptation.
Let’s see how.
What exactly is Metabolism?
The breaking down of ingested food into particles small enough to be taken by the blood stream to all parts of the body is metabolism.
There are 2 categories of metabolism:
Catabolism or Destructive Metabolism – The process of breaking down particles/molecules
Anabolism or Constructive Metabolism – The process where cells synthesize the necessary compounds.
Metabolism enables the body to get energy and strengthens the body.
Metabolism in Babies and Kids
How does it work?
Your child eats – chemical reactions in the body convert food into fuel- generate energy to perform functions like moving, growing, thinking etc.
Let’s take a better look:
What happens next?
After you child consumes food, this is what happens:
There are certain molecules in the digestive system called ENZYMES.
Enzymes break down:
Proteins into Amino Acids,
Fats into Fatty Acids
Carbohydrates into sugars (like glucose)
These broken down compounds are then absorbed into the blood and then transported to cells.
Energy is then released and either stored or used by your child’s body.
BMR(Basal Metabolic Rate)
The number of calories that your child burns in a day is affected by how active he is, the amount of fat and muscle in his body and his BMR.
To an extent, BMR is inherited.
But in some kids, BMR can change.
Kids who are more physically active tend to have a higher BMR.
AGE : 0 – 6 months
As soon as a baby is born, the umbilical cord, through which a baby is attached to his /her mother, is cut.
This causes the placental circulation to stop suddenly and rather abruptly.
As a result, the constant supply of maternal nutrition stops.
What happens now?
The baby has to adapt.
His body has to change the way it feeds, digests and absorbs nutrients.
AGE : 6 months – 1 yr
A small baby’s digestive system is delicate and it will take a while for it to mature.
Each baby has his/her own metabolic rate.
At six months, the baby will need to be put on solids gradually.
She can have some breast milk and 2 or 3 teaspoons of food to start with, slowly increasing the quantity according to the baby’s needs.
Eating solids will make her thirsty, so she will need about 120 ml of water per day.
Milk will be the main source of nutrients and water till she turns 1.
AGE : 1 – 2 yrs
At around 12 months, your child may start to look slightly chubby.
This is because his rate of metabolism is changing.
Once he is fully mobile, he will need snacks between meals to fuel his energy.
Young children have different nutritional needs and require enough calories to sustain growth of muscle, tissue and bone that takes place during childhood.
Due to very fast rate of growth in the first 2 years of life, fat is needed as it is the most concentrated source of energy.
Without enough fat in the diet, a child would need to burn up protein for energy.
Fat is also important for healthy development of the brain and nervous system.
A high fiber diet is still not appropriate for your child.
Young children have small stomachs.
Fiber is low calorie bulk material that fills the stomach without meeting a toddler’s high calorific needs and it can even hinder absorption of vital nutrients.
It is recommended that you try to include 5 portions of fruit or vegetables (not including potatoes) in your child’s diet each day.
It is believed that this helps to protect against certain forms of cancer and heart disease, and provides the correct balance of nutrients.
If you start your baby on this eating plan, you will set him on the road to a healthy diet for life.
AGE: 2 – 5 yrs
Children of this age are highly active and often appear thin.
Your child will need frequent small meals to meet his high energy requirements.
There may be times when he seems in need of a rapid energy “fix” to stop him becoming over-tired or grumpy.
Sugar and carbohydrates from refined sources such as fizzy drinks or chocolate biscuits are quickly broken down into glucose and provide an instant “pick-me-up”.
But fruit or fruit juice are healthier energy sources that are also fast-working.
Unrefined carbohydrate foods, such as bread, potatoes or home-made biscuits take longer to break down into glucose, but provide a more sustained energy supply.
He will of course need to eat his regular meals at meal times, but he can eat as much or as little as he needs to – he may not be very hungry because of his frequent snacking.
Understand that your child’s metabolism changes as he grows.
Click Here to understand more about Metabolic Disorders in children.
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