Learn About Responsive Feeding For Your Child’s Eating HabitWednesday, 9 May 2018
During the first six months of life, breast milk is adequate to fulfill the nutritional requirements of a child. However, as the child grows beyond six months of age, they begin to require complementary food as breast milk can no longer fulfill all of the energy and nutritional requirements of the child. Breast milk and complementary food can be given simultaneously until the age of two years old. This is recommended by the WHO in order to optimize the growth and development of the next generation. Therefore, parents should have a good knowledge background on complementary food, including the correct amount, composition, and time to provide them in order to avoid the occurrence of malnutrition, which may affect the growth and development of the child. Based on data from the WHO in 2014, Indonesia ranks 17th from 117 countries with the highest prevalence of stunting among under-fives. According to Dr. Atilla Dewanti, SpA(K), an expert in infant and child health, the issue of stunting does not only affect the height of the child, but the iron and amino acid deficiencies that arise may also affect growth and development, immunity, and cognitive function. If the nutritional requirements of the child are not met, long-term deficiencies in iron, iodine, zinc, and vitamin A can lead to a decrease in IQ and increase the risk of diseases such as diabetes mellitus, coronary heart diseases, and osteoporosis. The process of learning to eat, or the First Feeding Moments of the child, is not only a time to fulfill their nutritional requirements, but also the time to train healthy eating skills and habits. The First Feeding Moments is important to instill a memory of flavor by introducing the various flavors and textures of food to the child at an early age. In the long run, the First Feeding Moments of the child is beneficial to minimize the risk of the child to become picky eaters in the future. Based on recommendations by the WHO, the provision of complementary food to the child should be based on several important factors such as responsive feeding which implements the principles of psychosocial care. What is meant by responsive feeding? The following points may explain this concept:
- Accompany the child during feeding. Parents should be sensitive to signs of hunger and satiety shown by the child.
- To help the child understand hunger, plan a regular eating schedule. Do not serve snacks, juice, or milk at 3-4 hours prior to eating.
- During meal time, communicate with the child and maintain eye contact. Avoid things that can divert the attention of the child, such as allowing them to focus on gadgets.
- If the child refuses to eat, try serving another food with a different flavor and texture.
- The feeding session should not exceed 30 minutes, even though the feeding portion at the time is very small. The feeding portion will be adjusted as the child grows.
- Provide food in small portions to avoid boredom or early satiety (after observing a large quantity of food on the plate).