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Role of Caregivers In The Journey Of A Child’s Nutrition

Role of Caregivers In The Journey Of A Child’s Nutrition

Once a girl starts puberty, the mother becomes worried about her health. Once a woman is pregnant, everyone wants to feed her well. We know the importance of nutrition is from the beginning. It starts at the puberty age of a girl child.

Challenge is correct information. Actual knowledge of child nutrition is intermingled with superstitious myths. Other spoilers are Google searches, the greedy passion of the food industry, myths created by greedy sellers of products like PediaSure and Horlicks.

The situation is enhanced by the widespread marketing of companies who want to replace natural food with their chemical-based products. However, it is the mother and the caregivers who play an extremely important role in the journey of a child's nutrition. Thus, it is imperative that these caregivers are properly guided in providing the right nutrition.

When we are influenced by all this, we forget, we cannot replicate nature.  The more science has tried to influence nature, the more damage it has created. The same has happened to nutrition too.

Journey of a child's nutrition

Nutrition during childhood helps in building a strong foundation for a healthy and bright future. Let us discuss nutrition in different stages of childhood and its impacts in later stages of life:

A child’s first source of nutrition after birth is breast milk. It is advised by WHO to exclusively breastfeed the child for 6 months of age. Period. No product can replace the benefits of mother's milk. Whoever is trying to influence you for other products is making money out of your decision.

After 6 months of age, it is difficult to fulfill a child’s nutritional requirements with breast milk only. Therefore, Homemade complementary food should be given along with frequent and on-demand breastfeeding for up to 2 years of age. It is the stage of the transition of food habits from breast milk to family food.

Initially offer only a teaspoon of the food to the baby, keep increasing the amount gradually. Start introducing solid foods bit by bit. Always introduce one new food at a time. By the end of the first year of life, children can sit independently, can chew and swallow a range of textures.

Do not give up.

Keep re-introducing until the child accepts, maybe in different forms.

Commercially available complementary feed and formula milk are high in sugar content and are addictive for the child. They also pave the path for early incidences of chronic diseases and childhood obesity.

Make the child feel the food

Allow your child to use their fingers and touch the food, even if they make a mess. This is very important for the child as it helps them to know about different textures of food and accept them. Baby’s food should be like family food only. Encourage them to sit with the family and eat. It helps them to accept the new food better. A high chair for little ones is a great idea.

Educate about processed food

Once in school, your child meets other kids of their age who might not be following a healthy diet and are addicted to junk food. Hence, education about packaged food from an early age is crucial. It is important to make your child understand that anything in a packet, bottle, or carton is unhealthy. And they will get ill if they eat it.

Try searching “Junk” in your mother tongue on Google, one would know the right place for Junk food after that.

Encourage Balanced diet

The next stage is when the child enters puberty (9-12 years of age) at the beginning of adolescence. Here the child undergoes various physical and hormonal changes. Peer influence majorly overrules this stage. They may think they are big enough but they need your guidance, make sure you spend time with them, eat together. Always encourage a home-based balanced diet as it has a variety of nutrients that benefits us in one or another way.

Thus, the role of caregivers is key in ensuring that the journey of the child's nutrition leads to the proper growth and development of the child by providing the right nutrition.

Factors influencing eating habits of children

Several things have a powerful influence on how and what we eat.

  1. Parental influence - Children are copy-cats. Their ability to imitate the actions of their parents and caregivers explains the kind of food styles developed.
  2. Food marketing - Snack foods often replace the healthier foods we eat. They market not for their nutritional value, but for their fun and taste, 
  3. Food preferences - Children mostly prefer sweet foods and high-fat foods, while they vegetables. It may lead to micronutrient deficiency and increases the risk of childhood obesity.

Tips for developing healthy food habits in children

  1. Make the food more tempting- try to introduce food having different taste, texture etc.you can enhance its palatability by adding a variety of vegetables which makes it more colorful. The more colorful it is more nutritious it is. 
  2. Offer variety- try to include food from different food groups. This makes the daily diet nutritionally balanced and versatile. Give portions of everything the family eats to make sure you don’t overdo it. Your child will be more interested in eating if there is more variety.
  3. For food items, they don’t like- try to give that particular food in different forms. For example – if the child doesn’t like fruits, you can give them in form of milkshakes, or custards etc.
  4. Be patient- Never force-feed your child. You can encourage them to eat, of course, but don’t force it. The pressure that comes with forcing your child to eat something can make mealtime an unhappy experience.
  5. Discourage eating meals or snacks while watching TV or digital screen - Try to eat only in designated areas of your home, such as the dining room. Eating in front of the TV or with a smartphone in hand may make it difficult to pay attention to feelings of fullness, and may lead to overeating.

Good nutrition helps in a child’s overall development. Children of today are citizens of tomorrow. So improving the nutritional status of children becomes extremely important. We at The Basic Meals provide expert guidance on child nutrition as we understand the importance of the role of caregivers in the journey of a child's nutrition. We ensure to provide the best nutrition plans that can boost the growth and development of your child. Check out www.thebasicmeals.com for more details.

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