Did you know, that what your baby eats in the first two years, determines your baby’s potential for the rest of their life? The right kinds of food have the power to ensure your baby reaches their full potential when it comes to physical growth, learning capacity and ensure that your baby isn’t susceptible to illness as a child and as an adult.
There are very real risks of irreversible damage to their brain development and physical growth and that’s what we are going to discuss today.
What does your baby need for Efficient Growth and Development?
Your baby needs two kinds of nutrients: Macronutrients and Micronutrients.
Macro nutrients are responsible for providing energy and aid physical growth and development. For example, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Essentially this is development we can see with our eyes. Also, not many of us are aware of the need
Not many of us are aware of the need of micro nutrients. Any micronutrient deficiencies during this time could lead to impaired cognitive development and affect immunity.
Micro nutrient deficiency affects brain growth and immunity and leads to reduced learning capacity later in life and can also make your baby more susceptible to infections throughout life.
So now you want to know how to you ensure that your baby gets the right nutrition?
While we have established the micro and macro nutrients are essential for our kid’s development most of us have no idea as to how much is the right amount of nutrient.
WHO recommends breastmilk for the first 6 months but beyond that the mother’s milk does not have enough nutrients that your baby needs at that stage. While you need to introduce solids at this stage do remember that a baby’s stomach is really tiny( it’s fist size), so just about a few spoons is enough.
The surprising part is that babies need 5 times more nutrition than adults at this stage. Just check this chart, all counts are way higher for babies( these counts are dependent on weight of an individual)
What Are Complementary foods and why do we need them?
We are a carb rich nation and our food habits are insufficient at times to fulfill our baby’s dietary requirements.
98% of your baby’s iron and 72% of your baby’s zinc needs should be fulfilled through complementary food but the Indian diets are insufficient to do so.
You need to give your baby small quantities of food that are packed with more nutrients than your regular food. Nutrient dense foods or complete foods that are fortified with minerals & vitamins like iron, zinc etc. so that your baby can get all they need in the amount of food that they can actually eat.
Iron plays a very important role in your baby’s brain development and cognition
Iron & Zinc help in the development of your baby’s immunity
In fact, two bowls of fortified cereals a day bridge the nutrition gap in your baby’s diet
In addition to fortified/complete baby foods, you need to ensure diversity of food groups in your baby’s diet by including foods from all food groups on a daily basis for a balanced diet.
Supplements are a solution to tackle the issue, and you can give supplements of various vitamins & minerals after consulting your paediatrician but fortified foods are better.
Things To Remember:
Cream in milk is required for Vitamin A absorption which is essential for baby upto the first 1000 days
–Every woman who is trying to conceive should get herself checked and ensure she is healthy enough to give birth to a child. If you are lacking in any counts, best is to take supplements with doctor’s advice as the baby’s first growth happens inside you. I will be elaborating more on pregnant moms in another blog.
–At 4-6 months (as recommended by Dr Zubeda but check with your paediatrician): Start introducing solids like ¼ of a mashed banana or just a spoon of rice or even a teaspoon of orange juice. Such kids will be less fussy eaters in life.
– Once your child is on solids adding some mint or coriander to the rice cereal we increase vitamins and minerals quotient.
– Add some lime to the baby’s food to give Vitamin C. Great sources of Vitamin C are Papaya, Peach, Mango, Aamla etc. inculcate these in the baby’s food.
– Try to introduce Raagi into the diet. This grain in addition to being high in fibre is also a great source of protein, calcium and iron.
– For Non-Vegetarians it’s important to introduce the child to your basic fish and chicken once they are 10 months or so. These are great sources of proteins.
– When preparing khichdi add the occasional spinach or peas. This will increase micronutrient nature of the meal.
–The pulses always should be soaked first, then boiled or steamed. This breaks phytic acid and oxalic acid in the pulses which do not let nutrition from the pulses absorb in the body. In simple English, this helps to break down the antinutrients and hard-to-digest components of the grain and at the same time, helps to release highly beneficial nutrients.
Did you know that rice protein is better than wheat rava?
I hope we have managed to awaken you to the fact on how important is the first 1000 days of a child. We can’t write down everything here but you can definitely read more about it at Dr Zubeda’s website, consult your nutritionist and google other reliable sources.
Dr.ZubedaTumbi specialises in Preventive Nutrition, Weight Management , Nutrition Counselling, Community Nutrition with over 28 years of experience. She has an exemplary academic career with a gold medal at BHSc (SNDT University), MHSc ( merit holder), NET- SET (UGC) and special grants from IDRC Canada and Tata Chemicals for PhD work. Her academic experience includes Senior College Lecturer Ship for 8 years at SVT College of Home Science (SNDT) , Research Guide and visiting faculty at Institute of Hotel Management and Catering