Discovering the fact that you have a new life inside you is a beautiful feeling. You instantly start giving yourself more attention by making sure that you are eating healthy and exercising to ensure that your baby is healthy. Going the extra mile for yourself and the new life inside you for almost nine months is not when the care ends. New mothers need to know that the first 1000 days are very crucial for your baby. In a recent session with Manjari Chandra who is a consultant nutritionist at the Multi-Specialty Centre, Pancheel Park, she spoke about the importance of the first two years of a baby's life and how mothers can feed their babies right for the next 1000 days.
What You Need To Know!
In the first 1000 days, your baby grows more than the entire remainder of their life. In the first year alone, your baby’s weight triples and height increases by 50%. What’s more, a staggering 80% of their brain and cognitive development is complete by their second birthday, with their brain size tripling from birth to two years; Babies are born with immature immune systems and it takes up to two years to strengthen it.
With a pace like that, it is no surprise that the food they eat shapes your baby's growth and development in the first two years. There are changes you can see, and changes that you can’t. But one thing that is clear, is that your baby needs a whole lot of nutrition during this time, more so than at any other time in their life.
If your baby doesn’t get the right kind of nutrition that meets all their requirements, there are very real risks of irreversible damage to their brain development and physical growth.
How Can You Manage Your Baby’s Micro-nutrient Needs?
You need to give your baby small quantities of food that are packed with more nutrients than your regular food. Nutrient dense foods or complete foods that are fortified with minerals and vitamins like iron, zinc etc. so that your baby can get all they need in the amount of food that they can actually eat.
Iron plays a very important role in your baby’s brain development and cognition and iron and zinc help in the development of your baby’s immunity. Fortified cereals and foods have been found to be the most effective way of ensuring that there are no micro-nutrient deficiencies in children. In addition to fortified/complete foods, 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.
Supplements are a solution to tackle the issue, and you can give supplements of various vitamins & minerals after consulting your pediatrician. However, fortified foods are safer and closer to regular food and more effective. Additionally, the palatability of supplements is not very high especially for babies, and leads to very low compliance, thus beating the purpose of supplements, whereas fortified foods become a natural part of the baby’s diet.
Hence you could use fortified food like Atta, Salt etc. readily available in the market to ensure your baby gets the right nutrition for his/her proper development. In fact, 2 bowls of fortified cereals a day bridge the nutrition gap in your baby’s diet. By ensuring that your couple fortified foods with your baby’s regular diet of homemade foods, you can rest assured that your baby’s nutrition needs are fully met.