Every child has the right to the best possible mental, social, and emotional growth. The brain’s cognitive, social, and emotional functions continue to evolve throughout life. The brain’s growth and development, on the other hand, differ over time. Before the age of three years, the brain’s ultimate structure and potential are formed in large part.
Normal brain function necessitates adequate nutrition. Nutrition is particularly vital during pregnancy and infancy, as the brain is forming and laying the groundwork for mental, physical, and socio-emotional skills development during childhood and adulthood. As a result, nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy and childhood are likely to have an effect on memory, behaviour, and productivity during school and adulthood. Individuals and communities can reap long-term and widespread benefits from focusing on this early period for the prevention of nutrient deficiencies.
How does nutrition affect development in infants?
Childhood is a crucial period in a person’s growth and development, as well as the formation of their physical and mental abilities. The maturation of higher mental functions such as focus, memory, understanding, and perception occurs during intellectual growth in children. Optimal brain growth during these years has been linked to improved academic performance. If nutrition has a positive impact on cognitive development, then dietary deficiencies harm cognitive development.
From birth to adulthood, adequate infant feeding is critical to a child’s continued wellbeing. Correct feeding is especially important in the first three years of life because it helps to reduce morbidity and mortality, lower the risk of chronic disease later in life, and promote regular mental and physical growth.
Even though every infant and child have the right to good nutrition under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, less than a fourth of infants in many countries have access to the dietary diversity and feeding frequency needed. Up to a third of all cases of infant, malnutrition is caused by improper feeding practices. The abundance of packaged foods, such as baby formula and products high in salt and trans fats, exacerbates the problem. This leads to a rise in unhealthy eating habits, obesity, and a significant drop in the number of mothers who breastfeed their children. Breastfeeding is beneficial to a child’s health, including improved IQ, school results, further performance in adulthood.
At what stage should an expectant mother start be working on the nutritional needs of her child?
People around you can encourage you to eat more or larger portions when you’re pregnant because “you’re eating for two.” This is a popular pregnancy fallacy, and consuming a lot of extra food during pregnancy will not help your baby grow.
Most women do not need any additional food during the first six months of pregnancy to have all their baby needs. A woman’s daily calorie intake should be about 2,000 calories per day. Depending on how active you are in the third trimester, you may need an additional 200 calories and nutrients.
It’s always important to eat a well-balanced diet, but it’s especially important when you’re pregnant because your food is your baby’s primary source of nutrients. Many women, on the other hand, are deficient in iron, folate, calcium, vitamin D, and protein. As a result, it is important to increase the amount of these nutrients in your diet while pregnant.
What nutrients are essential for kids who have just started consuming solid/liquid foods?
Iron– It is a vital nutrient for survival. It is a component of hemoglobin that aids in the transport of oxygen in the body. Babies have an ample store of iron for the first 4-6 months of their lives; but, after those 4-6 months, those stocks are exhausted. Iron is provided by breast milk and iron-fortified formulas, but it is unlikely to be sufficient, particularly once solid foods are introduced.
Omega 3 fatty acids– They will help your baby’s brain and eye growth, as well as his or her immunity. DHA and EPA, two forms of omega 3 fatty acids, are essential for life, but they are not produced by our bodies. That means we must take special care to ensure that we (including the baby) eat them. Around 6 months of age, you can begin adding oily fish like salmon, which is a good source of this unsaturated fat.
Protein– It is extremely beneficial to your baby’s growth and development. What is the reason for this? Since it is a part of every cell in their body, working tirelessly to preserve, restore, and construct body tissues. Amino acids, the “building blocks” of protein, make up proteins. Some of these amino acids are essential, meaning they cannot be synthesized by the body. That means the baby will have to get them from food. Breast milk and iron-fortified formula, fortunately, contain just the right amount of protein.
Vitamin D– You probably already know that babies need calcium for bone health, but did you know that they also need vitamin D to aid in the development of those developing bones? Vitamin D is essential for bone mineralization and immunity, and a baby should receive 400 IU of Vitamin D per day. Breastfed or partially breastfed babies need vitamin D supplements, whereas formula-fed babies get enough vitamin D from their formula.
Zinc– It is essential for your baby’s growth and development because it is needed for the production of proteins and DNA. Zinc is also essential for preserving immune function. Zinc deficiency in babies can lead to stunted growth and increased susceptibility to infections.
How much does your infant require? Zinc requirements for infants aged 0 to 6 months are 2 milligrams per day, and children aged 7 months to 3 years are 3 milligrams per day.