Your child’s growth is an indicator of their nutritional status and development.
Are you always worried about your child’s health? No amount of eating and playing well satisfies your heart until you hear it from an expert like your pediatrician?
After a thorough examination, he comes to the conclusion that “Your kid is perfectly healthy and growing fine”. That’s when your heart attains its peace.
Or at times is your guilt silenced by random compliments from people around you, like the grandparents or the lady at the park saying, “her height is pretty good for her age” or “he looks plump”?
Here’s the thing, looking healthy or tall are not the only parameters for determining the growth of a child.
Growth and development are two separate entities but both go hand in hand. Your child’s growth should be monitored by their doctor as well as you. You don’t need a medical degree or tons of knowledge to be able to decipher if your child is growing well or not.
For the uninitiated, growth represents an increase in size while development implies growth in function and capability. Both these parameters are highly dependent on the genetic factors of the child, his environment and his nutritional status.
Why do you need to track your child’s growth?
A child might be getting sufficient calories or look well-fed, but in reality, he might be deficient in essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. This is called a “nutritional gap”. It happens due to the fact that they are consuming less healthy food.
Here are some simple habits to ensure a healthy diet and lifestyle for your child.
1. Mindful eating
A child’s meal plan should consist of a balanced diet. For eg., a plate that consists of roti (Indian flatbread), rice, vegetables, dal (lentils) or non-veg will provide sufficient quantities of nutrients from each food group. When it comes to feeding kids, it’s the quality and not the quantity that matters. Mindful eating, in conjunction with adequate physical activity, can do wonders for the health and nutrition of a child. It can prevent him from obesity as well as common nutritional diseases.
It’s not always possible to make food at home. Especially if you are a working mom, quick fixes for breakfast are lifesavers. So, when looking for food options for breakfasts or evening snacks, try to check the labels and contents.
- When looking for cereals, try to buy anything that has less than 10gms of sugar per cup of cereal.
- Next, you need to look for calories. Buy anything that has less than 140 calories per cup.
- Fibre is the one responsible for giving your child the feeling of fullness, apart from a healthy bowel. A minimum of 4 grams of fibre is what will help you achieve this.
- Proteins is what your child’s body needs to help them get through the day. Try to choose one that reaches at least 4-5 grams of protein per serving.
3. Track your child’s growth
We talk about tracking growth, but exactly how to scientifically track growth in kids in India? Remember your last visit to the Paediatrician? It involved a series of checkups like the mouth, the eyes, the ears. It was followed by palpation of the abdomen and finally the measurements for which your child would never stay still.
These measurements are the key tools in helping your doctor know the nutritional status of your child. It included the height, weight and MAC mid-arm circumference (till 5 years of age).
How to track your child’s growth at home?
A child’s height and weight are the key parameters that can determine his growth and nutritional status over a long period of time. When plotted correctly, it should fall within the average range of what is expected for his or her age. This charting is to be done on a growth chart that has standard average values for each age group.
Monthly height and weight measurements can be easily done at home and a diary can be maintained to chart these. It can be done with the help of height charts available in the form of wall stickers/decals and weight machines.
Think of it as a one-time investment for tracking your child’s growth and giving you some mental peace. Make it a fun family thing that you all practice together.
There are many applications and growth trackers available now to provide a complete assessment of the child’s growth status. All you need to do is enter the measurements. PediaSure has a Grow Right tracker like this. Super easy to use, it gives you details that you can download and show at your next appointment with the paediatrician.
Burden of nutritional Diseases in India.
Another reason why you should track your child’s growth in India is because we are the hub of nutritional deficiencies among children. The incidence is more among the low socio-economic strata. Proper knowledge about the common illnesses will help you identify their signs in time.
Protein-energy malnutrition, Iodine deficiency disorder, vitamin-A deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia are some of the most common culprits. Also, hailing from a better socio-economic background doesn’t provide you immunity from these.
A common problem of the kids is fussy eating. They may end up having iron deficiency, multivitamin deficiencies and obesity.
A simple take away is to ensure your child receives a healthy balanced diet. Check the labels before buying products. Track your child’s growth to get a clear idea of how their growth and development are taking place. And lastly, equip yourself with the knowledge of common nutritional illnesses.
The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not reflect the views of any brand. Any omissions or errors at the author’s end does not assume any liability or responsibility on any party mentioned in the blog.