Children need nutrients for energy, body building and body protection. The period from conception to two years of age is a critical period of growth. Children who are feeding adequately gain weight as expected which is one the indicators of proper child growth and development in addition to timely attainment of development milestones like crawling, sitting and walking.
Proper feeding for infants is; breast feeding exclusively till 6 months of age and introducing soft foods at 6 months and continue breast feeding to 2 years or more.
Exclusive breastfeeding for infants from birth to 6 months of age.
Breast milk is the perfect and complete food for infant’s first 6 months of life; as it is a complete source of nutrients, easily digested and contains antibodies in addition to breastfeeding your child
helping with bonding, cost friendly and being beneficial to mother’s health.
Proper Breast Feeding Tips
Sit up straight and hold baby close to the breast.
Ensure correct attachment to the breast with mouth of baby open and lips touching the areola of your breast.
Breastfeed the baby for about fifteen minutes at each breast.
Breast feeding for adequate time per breast is advised as breast milk is comprised of fore
milk which comes in the first minutes of feeding (provides most nutrients and quenches)
baby’s thirst and later hind milk which looks more concentrated that the fore milk. Hind milk contains more fat, providing more energy hence both provide optimum nutrition for
the baby who suckles for long on one breast per feed.
Breastfeed the child eight to twelve times per day, including night time.
Emptying each breast and frequent breast feeding increases breast milk supply.
There is improved knowledge about the benefits of breast feeding today however with the
increased number of working mothers with only 3 months of maternal leave, it becomes hard for majority to breastfeed their children exclusively for 6 months.
What then are the infant feeding options for the baby with no access to breast-milk?
Breast milk is the best feed therefore when adequate breastfeeding is not possible, mothers are
advised to use expressed breast milk.
- Expressed breast milk; mothers can express breast milk by hand or using a pump. Expressed
breast milk is the better feed in comparison to infant formula and cow’s milk. It also helps to
keep up the breast milk supply.
Express as much breast milk before you go for work and while at work to avoid leaking.
Expressed breast milk can be stored in the in a clean place at room temperature for 8 hours
and in a refrigerator for 24 hours.
Continue breastfeeding your baby at night, in the early morning and at any time you are home.
- Infant formula: Commercial infant formula feeds are manufactured from cow’s milk and
fortified with nutrients in an effort to provide nutrients as in human breast milk. Breast milk
is the best and natural nutrient formula for infants and there is no need to use infant formula
when breast milk can be provided. Infant formula doesn’t have antibodies.
Mix infant formula feeds following the instructions on the tin. Ensure correct measurements
as feeds should not be dilute (provides less nutrients resulting in low weight gain) or too
concentrated (causes constipation and excessive energy intake resulting in excessive weight
- Cow milk is the option to infant feeding, when breast milk cannot be provided and infant
formula is not affordable and accessible for the mother. However the protein in cow milk is
hard to digest for the infant as compared to the protein in breast milk.
Below 4 Months; dilute one cup of milk with half cup water and add a teaspoon of sugar,
to ease digestibility. Above 4 Months; the baby can take undiluted milk as they have a higher nutrient need.Provide drinking water after feed to avoid constipation and warm water each morning.
- *Hygiene is key for all feeding bottles and tits; wash bottles and tits thoroughly and boil them in water for ten minutes daily.
Key mothers stress free. Postpartum depression may affect Breastmilk supply. Give mothers enough rest. Mothers with support from family and health care providers play a key role in ensuring effective child feeding. Health workers should support mother to initiate breast feeding within an hour of delivery when possible for mother and baby. Mothers may be asked to started with expressing when infants are away from them for example premature babies.
FEEDING CHILDREN EXPOSED TO HIV
Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should to go for HIV testing at each pregnancy.
HIV positive mothers should see a health care provider for infant feeding guidelines. Mothers
attending prevention of mother to child HIV transmission clinics are taught how to strictly
exclusively breast feed their children for six months irrespective of the child’s HIV status and to
introduce soft foods at 6 months an continue breast feeding till one year of age.
The mother should be taking their ARVs effectively.