Child Care – Infant’s Energy Needs Higher Than The Adult’s

There is no basic difference between the diet used for the infant and the adult. The infant’s diet, like the adult’s, must fulfill certain requirements:

(1) There must be enough of it.

(2) There must be enough for growth and tissue waste.

(3) There must be enough water, minerals and vitamins.

(4) It must be neutral, it should have bulk and digestibility. Mother’s milk satisfies all these, and for that reason mother’s milk is always the ideal infant food.

When artificial feeding has to be substituted, the modifications that are necessary are due to:

(1) The baby’s limited digestive capacity.

(2) Its helplessness.

(3) Its greater energy requirement.

(4) Its rapid growth.

The baby’s limited digestive capacity is due mostly to its lack of teeth, which automatically rules out all solid food.

Its helplessness means that it must eat whatever is given to it—clean or dirty, suitable or unsuitable. Particular care, then, must be taken to see that this helpless little creature is protected, and that its milk is free from germs—sterilized or pasteurized.

Again, its helplessness does not allow it to obtain the vitamins that we get in fresh foods—particularly fruits. As neither mother’s milk nor cow’s milk is certain to contain Vitamins C and D, these must be supplied in the form of orange or tomato juice for C and cod liver oil for D.


In spite of its decreased digestive capacity, the infant’s energy requirement is much higher than the adult’s—50 calories per pound as against 20. If the food is suitable, the baby assimilates these higher amounts very easily. The greatest fault in infant feeding, which accounts for over three-fourths the instances of trouble, is due to insufficient total amount of baby’s food. Cow’s milk contains only about half the carbohydrate of mother’s milk and, therefore, extra amounts must be added to the formula.

The baby’s rapid growth means that it must have more of the tissue builder of our foodstuffs—protein. There is plenty of this in all cow’s milk. The baby will grow so that it will be three times as big at the end of one year as it was the day it was born. The baby requires about one and one-half grams of protein per pound as compared to the adult’s one-half gram—nearly three times as much.

Whole cow’s milk brought to a boil and the scum removed, with three ounces of sugar added to a quart of milk, diluted or undiluted with water as the infant’s digestion can stand it, three and one-half to four ounces at a feeding, six feedings every 24 hours two at night) is a formula which fulfills all the above requirements.