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Expert Sends Two Strong Reasons Why Parents Must Stop Feeding Babies Noodles, Beverages

Expert Sends Two Strong Reasons Why Parents Must Stop Feeding Babies Noodles, Beverages

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A health expert has warned mothers against feeding their babies complementary foods such as noodles and beverages.

Professor Beatrice Ogunba, a Professor of Public Health Nutrition with Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State gave this warning.

She said these food causes;

  1. Malnutrition in children.
  2. Delayed or stunted growth.

She said some food and beverages have been identified as unhealthy for consumption during complementary feeding. She quoted the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund as her source.

These foods and beverages are:

  • Candies.
  • Chocolate.
  • Chips.
  • Crisps.
  • Cheese puffs.
  • French fries.
  • Fried dough.
  • Instant noodles.
  • Ice cream.
  • Cakes.
  • Pastries.
  • Sweet biscuits.
  • Generally, baked and fried confectioners.

The Prof explains complementary feeding as the food given to a baby when breast milk alone is not enough. According to Ogunba, complementary feeding helps the child meet nutritional requirements.

WHO said complementary food is needed after six months of age. At this age, it becomes difficult for breastfed infants to meet their nutrient needs from human milk alone.

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According to UNICEF, Optimal feeding practices are also fundamental to a child’s survival, growth and development.

UNICEF stated:

“What, when and how young children are fed during the first two years of life lay the foundation for survival, growth and development. 

“Ideally, infants should be put to the breast within one hour of birth, breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life, and continue to be breastfed up to two years of age and beyond. 

“Starting at six months, breastfeeding should be combined with safe, age-appropriate feeding of nutritious solid, semi-solid and soft foods.”

In an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, the nutrition expert said complementary feeding is needed:

  • To provide energy.
  • Provide essential nutrients required for continued growth.
  • Boost the development of babies.

The required complementary food must contain the essential classes of food. These foods are:

  • Grains.
  • Roots.
  • Tubers.
  • Plantains.
  • Pulses (beans, peas, lentils).
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Dairy products (milk, infant formula, yoghurt and cheese)
  • Flesh foods (meat, fish, poultry, organ meats and eggs).
  • Vitamin-A rich fruits and vegetables.
  • Other fruits and vegetables.
  • Breast milk.

She noted that the nutrients in recommended these foods complement those in breast milk.

The professor said the WHO and UNICEF in a 2021 document added three new unhealthy indicators that mothers should look out for.

She explained:

“Children between ages of six to eight months must have at least the two to three minimum feeding of complementary foods while ages nine to 24 months must have at least four meals with additional healthy snacks.

“Children must eat from groups of food such as grains, roots, tubers and plantains, pulses (beans, peas, lentils), nuts and seeds, dairy products (milk, infant formula, yogurt, cheese, flesh foods (meat, fish, poultry, organ meats, eggs), Vitamin-A rich fruits and vegetables, other fruits and vegetables and breast milk.

“Minimum of two milk feeding for non breastfed babies(200-500ml per day) was recommended.”

“The WHO and UNICEF 2021 document added three new unhealthy indicators that mothers should watch for and should not be consumed as complementary foods.

“These are sweet beverage consumption, unhealthy food consumption and zero vegetable or fruit consumption. The sweet beverage consumption includes commercially produced and packaged, sweetened beverages, 100 percent fruit juice as well as fruit-flavoured drinks, and homemade drinks of any kind to which sweeteners have been added.

“Unhealthy food consumption and zero vegetable or fruit consumption include candies, chocolate, and other sugar confections, chips, crisps, cheese puffs, French fries, fried dough, instant noodles, frozen treats like ice cream, cakes, pastries, sweet biscuits and other baked or fried confections.

“It recommends one vegetable serving (80gm) with every meal in the target age.”

According to the WHO data, the nutritionist said there are no universal recommendations for the optimal number of servings of vegetables and fruits per day was given.

The nutritionist said complementary feeding should include a variety of foods.

Prof. Ogunba advised mothers to take the nutrition of their babies after six months seriously. She warned that malnutrition starts during the complementary feeding period of many infants.

She said,” Thirty-seven per cent of children in Nigeria are stunted (below -2 SD), and 19 per cent are severely stunted (below -3 SD) (Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, 2018).

“In Nigeria, 22 per cent of children are given complementary foods in addition to breast milk before six months and consequently Nigeria has the highest number of stunted children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa and the second highest in the world after India (Global Nutrition Report 2018).”

Among the inappropriate complementary feeding habits are:

  • Early and late introduction to solid, semi-solid and soft food.

Source: PUNCH HealthWise

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