Childbearing is a thing of joy as it is a beautiful experience. It is likened to an adventure, which every woman will like to experience. But the question is, after childbearing, what next?
The challenge after childbearing, experts say is the nutrition of the child. They say that nutrition of children between the ages 0-5 years is very important, as it determines their health, academic performance, among others.
They also said that it is important at every age, especially for growing children, who are in need of proper nutrients to grow up healthy and strong.
Child development experts say it will also help children establish a foundation for healthy eating habit and nutritional knowledge which will make them free from sickness, and certainly without any growth issues. On its part, the World Health Organisation (WHO)), recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for six months after which complementary foods should be added and breastfeeding should be continued until two years of age.
The stage of introducing complementary foods are very important because breast milk is not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of the baby after six months, that is why knowing the energy needs of a child is essential. Mr Inyanya Ede Sunday, a human anatomist, says energy need in children during development varies according to gender.
“Girls within the ages of four years require about 1200 to 1800 calories daily, “For boys, it is about 1200-2000 calories daily, depending on their level of physical activity.
“In other to acquire these calories, the parent must be aware of the essential nutrients which the child must take,’’ he said. He said that nutrients given to a child, starts from the first milk produced by the mother immediately after birth, called colostrum and it develops the child’s brain and bones. The human anatomist also reiterated that children have high need for protein to support muscle growth and development.
He also recommended adequate calcium and vitamin D intake for the child because it is used to build dense bones and skeleton.
Children who do not consume adequate vitamin D should be given a supplement of 10micro grammes per day, he said.
Ugwulebo Chioma, a nutritionist and Production Manager, Kal kreatif, restated that balanced diet is not about eating three square meals.
Chioma said is all about making sure the food the child eats has all the nutrients in its right proportion.
“Since the nutrients must be in right proportion, parents should not succumb when their children become picky with food, but find other methods to substitute their taste for sweet things with healthy food. “Most times once a child begins to grow, they tend to select what to eat and what not to eat, so the mother must find out what the child likes which must be healthy and feed the child with it. “Some children may like finger foods, while some may not; in this case, something can be substituted instead.’’
A mother, Mrs Chidera Christian, said since her child likes finger food, instead of boiling Irish potatoes, she would rather steam, mash and add nutrients to enrich the child’s food “The advice to parents is to mash foods like fish, beans and feed the child properly. They should also supplement with things like avocado, carrots, milk, green beans and pudding. “Children who are growing up should consume enough milk and vegetables which should be added into their diets, but sadly today, all these are lacking,’’ she noted. Mrs Oluchi Mbam, a nutritionist, said children that were not given balanced diet, suffer from malnutrition.
She said that malnutrition is a situation where the child lacks vital nutrients, which she said would
affect both the red blood cells and the white blood cells which should fight diseases in the body. Mbam, also proffered solutions to “sweet foods,’’ which children of today are fond of.
She said that it was better to give banana or egg to a child, which is better than biscuits or sweets. The nutritionist also listed foods good for the development of the child.
“Fruits such as banana, avocado, mango, apple, pawpaw, pear, plum, peach and butternut squash are your best bet for nourishing your little one. Each can serve as food on its own. “Staples such as sweet potato, unripe plantain and brown rice are your go-to source for carbohydrates for your dear baby. “Chicken, whole egg, beef and liver will help you give your baby that iron boost needed for development. Cereals also keep the child happy, chubby and healthy.’’
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