NUTRITION & CHILDREN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

One of the joys of parenthood is to see your child grow. A definite way of enjoying this is to ensure proper nutrition for your child.

 

While adequate food is essential throughout childhood, it is more so in the first 2 years of life. The first two years of life are the most vital in a child’s growth. The nutrition provided in this phase of life, lays foundation of health and healthy feeding habits. However, if nutrition is neglected during this period, it could prove hazardous for the little one. It could lead to:

 

  • Nutritional deficiencies, which may be related to calories, proteins, vitamins, iron or other micronutrients.
  • Increased susceptibility to infections: may have repeated episodes of chest infections, loose stools etc.
  • Breast milk provides complete nutrition for your baby till first 6 months of age. It is very important that babies be exclusively breast fed for the first 4-6 months of life.
  • Active brain growth/development of children extends from the last three months of pregnancy till end of second year of age. Under nutrition during early part of this period (about first 6 months) adversely affects the optimal brain development.

 

After 6 months, mother’s milk alone is not able to meet the nutritional requirements of growing child. This is the time, when age appropriate  semisolid foods should be gradually added while continuing breast feeding.

 

Improper introduction of these foods is fraught with dangers of:

 

  • Loose motions due to infection from unhygienic preparation
  • Poor nutrition related to inadequate caloric intake, due to:
    • Less frequency and quantity of feedings
    • Poor nutritional quality: low in calories, fats, proteins and micronutrients.