Feeding of children starts from the time the mother realizes they are pregnant. Proper nutrition is of utmost importance from the onset of the pregnancy to ensure the baby is healthy upon birth and stays healthy. Proper nutrition from a tender age is the best gift you can give to your baby.
From conception, the mother should make sure they eat balanced meals consisting of all the food groups (energy-giving food, body building food and protective food). The portion sizes do not necessarily have to be doubled but just increased to cater for the fetal growth.
After birth breastfeeding should be initiated within the first hour and should be exclusive for first 6 months (the baby eats nothing but breastmilk), and then complimentary feeding should begin after the first 6 months (the baby has breastmilk and may also eat food), and this complementary feeding can last for up to 2 years. It is during the complementary feeding stage when the mother learns about the baby’s allergies and likes and dislikes. It is advised to introduce one type of food at a time so that it can be easier to determine what foods the baby responds well to and what type of food makes the baby sick.
Causes of diarrhea in infants:
- For exclusively breastfed babies; o changes in breastfeeding mother’s diet may offset diarrhea in your baby (eating a lot of spicy food/sugary food before breastfeeding)
- ingestion of certain medications like antibiotics
- For formula fed / complementary fed infants & children above 2 years o Stomach bug or tummy upset may be caused by unsanitary environment or improper food preparation practices while preparing the child’s food which resulted in the child getting an infection from the improperly cooked/prepared food.
- Changes in the baby’s diet especially if the baby was breastfed exclusively for 6 months, their system my need time to adjust to digesting solid food and not only breast milk.
- Changing formula used to feed the baby due to the difference in ingredients used for preparing different formulas.
Treatment / prevention of diarrhea
- It is very important to continue breastfeeding if the infant was still being breastfed
- Practice proper hygiene when preparing children’s meals or meals in general.
- Ensure the use of safe drinking water
- Stay hydrated (in the case of diarrhea drink oral rehydration solutions to replenish salts lost during diarrhea provided at the clinic or in pharmacies
- Encourage the child to eat a regular diet to limit weight loss cases
See the doctor if:
- There are signs of dehydration.
- Dry lips, mouth & tongue
- No wet diapers for 3hours/more
- Sleepiness and irritability
- Sunken eyes and cheeks
- Faster than normal heartbeat
- No tears when crying
- Experience diarrhea for more than 24 hours
- Excretion of black stools, or stools containing blood or pus(bovu)
- Experience fluctuating fever temperatures/ very high fever temperatures.
- Do not stop breastfeeding the baby when experiencing diarrhea
- Always prepare meals under sanitary conditions
- Make sure that all foods are thoroughly cooked and served steaming hot
- A diet consisting of starchy low-fiber foods can be used to stop diarrhea as these have binding properties and make stools bulkier.