Age Specific Nutrition: 0 – 2 Years Old

  • The nutrition of infants and young children is a key area to improve children’s survival and support healthy growth and development
  • The first 2 years of a child’s life are particularly important, as optimal nutrition during this period lowers morbidity and mortality, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and promotes overall better development
  • WHO and UNICEF make the following recommendations:
    • Initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth;
    • Breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and
    • Continuing to breastfeed at age 2 years or older, along with nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months of age
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months has many benefits for the baby and the mother. It is also an important source of energy and nutrients in children aged 6-23 months.
  • It can meet half or more of the energy need of a child between 6-12 months and one third of the energy need between 12-24 months
  • Complementary Nutrition
    • Around 6 months of age, a baby’s energy and nutritional needs begin to exceed the amount supplied by breast milk, and complementary foods are required to meet these needs
    • The guiding principles for proper complementary feeding are;
      • Continue to breastfeed frequently, on demand, until age 2 or later,
      • Feed slowly and patiently, encourage but do not force food, talk to the child and maintain eye contact,
      • Start with a small amount of food at 6 months and increase gradually as the child grows,
      • Gradually increase food consistency and variety
  • Complementary Nutrition
    • The guiding principles for proper complementary feeding are;
      • Increase the number of feedings of the child: 2-3 meals a day for babies aged 6-8 months and 3-4 meals a day for babies aged 9-23 months, 1-2 additional snacks if necessary,
      • Use fortified complementary foods or vitamin-mineral supplements when necessary
      • During illness, increase fluid intake, including more breastfeeding, and offer soft foods
  • Complementary Nutrition
    • Complementary foods should be rich in nutrients and should be given in sufficient quantities. From the sixth month, food should be introduced to babies in small quantities and gradually increased as the child grows
    • Babies can eat pureed, semi-solid foods and finger foods from 8 months. By 12 months, most children can eat the same types of foods consumed by the rest of the family, taking into account the need for nutrient-dense foods, including foods of animal origin such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products
    • Foods that can cause choking, such as whole grapes and raw carrots, and low-nutrient drinks such as tea and coffee should be avoided