If you have an infant or kid at your place, make sure that they get enough nutrition in their growing years of age. Babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Breast feeding should be started within an hour after delivery and do not discard first milk (colostrum), as it boosts the immunity of the baby and protects baby from several infections. Exclusive breast-feeding ensures safe nutrition to the infant thereby reducing the risk of infections and also helps in the overall development of the baby Breast-milk is the most natural and wholesome food for growth and healthy development of infants. Breast –fed infants do not need additional water. After six months, you can feed your baby with complementary foods while continuing to breastfeed. Complementary food should be rich in nutrients. These complementary foods can be prepared at home from commonly used food materials such as cereals (wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, etc.); pulses (grams/dals), nuts and oilseeds (groundnut, sesame, etc.), oils (groundnut oil, sesame oil etc.), sugar and jaggery. You can feed your baby to variety of soft foods like potatoes, porridge, cereals, or even eggs.
According to WHO,
- Infants should be breastfed exclusively during the first 6 months of life.
- Infants should be breastfed continuously until 2 years of age and beyond.
- From 6 months of age, breast milk should be complemented with a variety of adequate, safe and nutrient dense complementary foods.
Infants cannot eat large quantities of food at a single time so they should be fed small quantities at frequent intervals (3-4 times a day). Also, the food should be of semi-solid consistency so that the infants can swallow it easily. A balanced diet is the key to protect your child against nutritional deficiencies. Protein Energy Malnutrition more commonly affects children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. Malnutrition is defined as “a state of poor nutrition caused by insufficient or unbalanced diet”.
Points to Remember:
- Start breast-feeding within an hour after delivery and do not discard colostrum.
- Breast-feed exclusively (not even water) for six months.
- Continue breast-feeding in addition to nutrient-rich complementary foods preferably up to 2 years.
- Breast-milk alone is not enough for infants after 6 months of age. Complementary foods should be given after 6 months of age, in addition to breast-feeding.
- Feed low-cost home-made caloric and nutrient rich complementary foods.
- Observe hygienic practices while preparing and feeding the complementary food for infants.
- Read nutrition label on baby foods carefully as children are most prone to infections.
- Avoid junk foods.