This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
Very young infants fed upon "proprietary " or "prepared " baby foods, to the greater or less exclusion of mother's or good cow's milk, soon become rhachitic or scorbutic. Wiederhofer says that "the numerous infant foods, although much bepuffed, are of no value whatever." This is certainly true of all non-malted amylaceous foods. The common fault of nearly all such preparations is that they contain too much sugar or starch and too little fat - which latter is very difficult to preserve without becoming rancid. For example: Prof. Leeds says that Mellin's food has only 0.15 part fat in 144.74, and Nestle's food only 1.91 part in 139.69, but human milk has 3.90 per cent and cow's has 3.66 per cent.
Two extreme conditions are seen in such infants - those who are emaciated and marasmic, and those who are stout and apparently robust, but whose strength and power of resistance to disease is very deceptive. As described by Holt: " When children are fed upon foods lacking in fat, the teeth come late, the bones are soft, the muscles flabby," whereas "children fed upon foods containing too much sugar are frequently very fat, but their flesh is very soft, they walk late, and they perspire readily about the head and neck." They present a variety of rhachitic deformities, and are subject to catarrhal and other diseases. Such foods should never be fed to young infants unless under a physician's direction. For the further discussion of this topic the reader is referred to the section upon Prepared Farinaceous Foods, p. 151.
Another objection to feeding infants with starchy food, even when partially converted by diastase into dextrin and maltose, is that the final products are unlike the carbohydrate of normal milk (lactose), and it is doubtful whether they are as readily assimilated and as useful in the obscure metabolic processes of infant growth.
Predigested proteid foods, such as somatose and various forms of meat extracts, albumoses, etc., are sometimes used to re-enforce the milk of very young infants by addition to it. This is a mistake, for the cow's milk is already too rich in proteids. If temporary indigestion requires their use, they should be substituted for milk, and not given with the idea of re-enforcing it.