Infant and young child nutrition are one of the most critical interventions in ensuring proper growth and development. The first few years of a child’s life are critical for their physical and cognitive development, and proper nutrition is essential for them to reach their full potential. However, sometimes, despite a parent’s best efforts, a child may not be growing and developing as they should. This is when it becomes important to seek the help of a pediatrician specialist and identify any growth disorders that may be present.
Proper nutrition is essential for infants and young children as it provides them with the necessary nutrients to support their growth and development. During the first year of life, a child’s brain grows at an astonishing rate, and it is crucial that they receive adequate nutrition to support this growth. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for infants, as it contains all the essential nutrients needed for a baby’s growth and development. Hence, providing the right knowledge and support to mothers, to initiate and establish exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the most important intervention to ensure a healthy infant and child. However, only in a very rare situation, when breastfeeding is not an option, a high-quality formula should be used to ensure that the baby receives the necessary nutrients.
As the infant completes 6 months, it is important to introduce a variety of foods and textures to ensure that they receive a balanced diet. It is suggested to start with soft, mashed, or pureed fruits and vegetables and then gradually add on cereal–pulse porridges like Rice dal khichdi, Ragi porridge, etc. As the child gets accustomed to eating purees, the baby can be introduced to textured foods between 9-12 months of age. It is also important to provide plenty of water along with food to aid in digestion. Foods like eggs, milk products like curd and paneer, and mashed dry fruits can be gradually introduced after 9 months of age.
Introducing finger foods and encouraging the child to eat from the family pot during the second year helps ensure good childhood food habits. To promote healthy eating habits, it’s best to avoid using food as a reward or punishment and instead, make mealtime a positive and enjoyable experience for the child.
Despite a parent’s best efforts to provide proper nutrition, some children may not be growing and developing as they should. Growth disorders such as failure to thrive (FTT) and short stature can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetic disorders, chronic illness, and nutrient deficiencies.
To diagnose a growth disorder, a pediatrician will typically begin by taking a thorough medical history and conducting a physical examination including detailed measurements of the child (anthropometry). They may also order laboratory tests and imaging studies to help determine the cause of the child’s growth disorder. Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the disorder.
In some cases, treatment may involve addressing any underlying medical conditions that are causing the growth disorder. For example, if a child has a chronic illness such as cystic fibrosis or tuberculosis, treatment may involve managing the illness in addition to ensuring that the child receives the necessary nutrients to support growth and development.
In other cases, treatment may involve addressing any nutrient deficiencies that may be present. For example, a child who is not receiving enough iron may be prescribed iron supplements to ensure that they receive the necessary iron to support growth and development. In cases of nutritional failure to thrive or Protein-energy malnutrition, a nutritionist will work along with the pediatrician in taking a detailed nutritional survey of the child and prescribing a diet chart that can help provide adequate calories, protein, and other nutrients to support growth.
If the cause of a child’s growth disorder is found to be a genetic disorder, treatment may involve addressing any associated health problems and providing support and counseling to the family.
Overnutrition causing overweight and obesity is the other end of the spectrum of growth disorders. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles, inadequate exercise and sports, Television & mobile addiction and junk food obsession have led to a veritable epidemic of childhood obesity, especially in urban areas. Identifying it early and introducing appropriate lifestyle interventions early helps prevent the insidious long-term complications of childhood obesity.
It’s important to note that growth disorders can be complex and multi-factorial, therefore, the treatment may involve multiple specialists working together, including pediatricians, pediatric endocrinologists, geneticists, and nutritionists.
When it comes to treating growth and development disorders, the best pediatric hospital in Whitefield is “Kinder Women’s Hospital & Fertility Centre”. The hospital is well-equipped with the latest technology and staffed by highly skilled and experienced pediatric surgeons. They offer a wide range of services, from diagnosis to treatment and follow-up care, to ensure that your child receives the best possible care.
In Whitefield and Mahadevapura, there are many pediatricians to choose from, but finding the best one for your child can be a daunting task. One of the best ways to ensure that your child is getting the best possible care is to look for a pediatrician who is a specialist in growth and development disorders. A pediatrician who specializes in this area will have a deep understanding of the various factors that can affect a child’s growth and development and will be able to diagnose and treat any problems that your child may have.
Look no further for these kinds of specialized treatment that shall be provided by the most experienced and qualified pediatricians at Kinder Hospital.