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Sunday, August 19, 2012


Give solid food to baby when it's 6 mnths old

New Delhi: Every year, malnutrition kills thousands of children in the country. Those who survive, go on to suffer from health problems because of nutritional deficiencies. Experts say, to check malnutrition, efforts need to be made to create awareness about complementary feeding — preferably comprising of homemade semi-solid food items like mashed potato, bread and dal — when the child is six months, in addition to breastfeeding. Children with severe vitamin or mineral deficiencies may require additionalhealth supplements. 
    "An appropriate diet is critical for the growth of children, especially in the first two years. It can reduce infant mortality and prevent malnu
trition," said Dr K K Kalra, medical superintendent, Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya (CNBC), a super-specialty pediatric hospital. 
    Introducing complementary food at the right age, in adequate proportion and at right intervals is important. "We come across many parents, working couples in particular, who don't pay attention to their child's dietary requirements, often due to lack of time. Infants and young children need someone to not only offer them appropriate food, but also encourage them to consume it in sufficient quantity," he said. 
    Complementary food should be given two-three times a day to children in the age group of six to eight months, and the proportion should be hiked to three to four times a day when the child is between nine and 11 months, say experts. Between 12-13 months of age, threefour meals should be given. Depending on the child's ap
petite, one or two nutritious snacks can be offered between the meals. 
    According to Dr Anupam Sibal, senior pediatric gastroenterologist and group medical director, Apollo Hospitals, says maintaining good hygiene is crucial in checking infections. "Caution must be taken while preparing food and one should wash the child's hands with soap before a meal," he said. 
    Dr Sanjeev Bagai, pediatric nephrologist, CEO and dean, Radiant life, said that vitamin or mineral supplementation in babies should be administered under medical guidance. "Some kids who have severe iron deficiency may require supplements but one should always consult a doctor. Excess dosage can damage the kidney," he said. 
    A study done on 200 infants at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in Delhi to assess the reasons for inappropriateness in timing, quantity and consistency of complementary feeding showed lack of knowledge among mothers. 
    About one-fourth of the mothers interviewed were aware of the right consistency and followed it, 46.55 per cent knew about the right quantity and 54 per cent had knowledge about the recommended time for starting complementary feeds. Only eight per cent (16) mothers had proper knowledge of all aspects of complementary feeding. Health experts call for increasing female literacy and implementing educational programmes on nutrition to reduce the knowledge gap.




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