Dr. Ivelina Gerova is the Manager of Medical Communication for the Southeast Market in Nestlé Baby Nutrition (Romania, Bulgaria, Adriatic). Graduated from Medicine at the Medical University - Plovdiv and specialized in Nutrition and Dietetics at the Department of Public He alth at the Medical University - Varna.
Could you share how the recipes for the baby/children's food are prepared? Do children from different countries have different taste preferences like their parents, or are the principles of a balanced and he althy diet followed when preparing the recipes?
Nutrition is one of the main factors for ensuring he althy growth and development in childhood, on which the he alth of the individual throughout his life depends.Through food, the child acquires vital structural elements that participate in the construction of all organs and systems and ensure their proper functioning. It is important not only the quantity, but above all the quality of the nutrients taken, as it depends on it whether all the necessary ones will be provided to the body. This is also one of the main principles on which the recipes of children's food are created - to ensure the availability of all the main groups of nutrients - structural elements of the body. Another principle is the balancing of the ingredients - the main groups of nutrients should be combined in a way that provides a sufficient amount of each of them, in such a ratio that it adequately covers the needs of the child's respective age.
A particularly important principle is consideration of the specific needs of the age group. The goal is to prevent the development of deficiencies of important nutrients.
When creating the recipes, the specifics of the relevant national cuisine are always taken into account, as the weaning foods aim to introduce the child to the way of eating in the family.In Scandinavian recipes, for example, for children's food, fish is much more often present, Italian mothers look for recipes with the presence of pasta, French ones with specific cheeses, etc. Taste is cultivated, children are not born with specific preferences, although some tastes may are known to them from the time of the intrauterine period. There are studies that show that the mother's diet during pregnancy can determine the baby's attitude to certain foods, especially spicier and with a more characteristic taste.
Is there a difference in recipes when preparing foods for different markets and in quality requirements?
As I shared, there may be differences in recipes in different countries due to the specifics of national cuisines. When preparing them, national legal requirements regarding composition are strictly observed to ensure their safety. As a global leader in the production of baby food, Nestlé puts the quality of its products first.The extremely high standards are both in terms of the raw materials used in production, as well as in terms of the process itself and the final product. To achieve its high standards, the company works in several directions – it supports farmers to grow clean fruits and vegetables, it develops production processes that ensure the preservation of vitamins, minerals and valuable substances. Along the production line, there are more than 100 control points that guarantee the absence of contaminants and the safety of the final products. In addition, the company works together with its trading partners to ensure proper storage of products.
How long does it take to create a baby/child food product before it goes to market? What steps does one go through before reaching for it from the store shelf?
To reach the final consumer, every single product travels a long way. Recipes are created and approved by nutritionists together with pediatricians, after which technologists develop the production steps.Nestlé specialists work together with farmers to provide fruit and vegetables free of toxic contaminants, clean and organically sourced, rich in wholesome nutrients. Local producers are selected, with established systems of microbiological, toxicological and chemical control.
What are the main principles when feeding the little ones to avoid allergic reactions and stomach ailments?
The main principles of feeding and nutrition in children are covered in the guidelines of the European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) and the National Center for Public He alth and Analysis (NCPH). According to them, the introduction of weaning foods takes place no earlier than the 17th week after birth, following the principles of sequence of introduction to monitor for allergic reactions. Foods with proven allergenic potential (eggs, fish, fresh milk, honey, nuts, etc.) are introduced at a later stage, monitoring the child's reactions. Special attention is paid to children with a family history of allergies to minimize the risk of intolerance.
Regarding gastrointestinal manifestations, similar principles of introduction are followed - one new food every few days, monitoring for signs of intolerance - colic, diarrhea, constipation, blood in stools, etc.
What should parents pay attention to when choosing baby and children's food?
When choosing food for their child, parents should pay attention to several things: the presence of preservatives, colorings, thickeners, flavorings, whether there is added s alt, whether sugar is added to fruit purees, whether the expiration date is clearly indicated suitability, manufacturer.
It is good to trust manufacturers with traditions in the production of baby food whose products can guarantee safe and wholesome food for their children.