In a competitive world, millennial mothers would do everything to ensure a bright future for their babies. But you might be surprised to know that the first 1000 days of your baby’s life is much more important than we know it to be. Especially because, what your baby eats in the first 2 years determines their potential for the rest of their lives. In a nutshell — You are what you eat!
We recently met Manjari Chandra, Nutritionist & Founder of Manjari Wellness who has been trying to raise awareness about this crucial requirement and stresses on the importance of vital nutrients. Babies are born with immature immune systems and it takes up to 2 years to strengthen it. A staggering 80% of their brain and cognitive development is complete by their second birthday, with their brain size tripling during this period. With a pace like that, inevitably the food they eat shapes how your baby grows and develops in the first 2 years. The right nutrition in infancy is highly important for your child’s physical growth, learning capacity, and immunity powers.
What does your baby need in the first 1000 days ?
Babies need both macronutrients and micronutrients, during this critical stage of growth and development. While macro nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates and fats are responsible for providing energy and aid physical growth; micronutrients like vitamins and minerals fuel brain and immunity development. Micronutrients need special attention in the first 2 years because any micronutrient deficiencies during this time could lead to impaired cognitive development and affect immunity. This leads to reduced learning capacity later in life and can also make your baby more susceptible to infections throughout life.
To ensure that your baby gets the right amount of micronutrients needed, breastmilk is the gold standard for the first 6 months. Thereafter, breastmilk needs to be supported by solid foods. Though your baby can’t take in more than a few spoonfuls of food, they actually need more nutrition than adults to support their incredible growth rate at this stage. This is because although your baby’s stomach is the size of their tiny fist, which is only 20% of the size of an adult’s stomach, babies need 5 times more nutrition.The limited amount of food that the baby eats needs to provide all that the baby requires.
Diet for a 6-month Old
The majorly grain and plan based Indian diet is rich in macronutrients, but with the absence of pulses and green leafy vegetables, micronutrients like iron, zinc and calcium takes a backseat. The cause for concern is that 98% of your baby’s iron and 72% of your baby’s zinc needs should be fulfilled through complementary food, but our Indian diets are insufficient to do so. Gaps in micronutrient delivery is the highest when your baby is moving from exclusive breast milk to complementary feeds. The solution is to feed your baby small quantities of food that are packed with more nutrients than your regular food, i.e; nutrient dense foods or complete foods that are fortified with minerals & vitamins. Additionally, you need to ensure diversity of food groups in your baby’s diet by including foods from all food groups on a daily basis for a balanced diet. Two bowls of fortified cereals a day bridge the nutrition gap in your baby’s diet.
(The feature contributor is Motormemsaab)