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Facts for Life

Nutrition and growth

Supporting Information


Feeding times are periods of learning, love and interaction, which promote physical, social and emotional growth and development. The parent or other caregiver should talk to children during feeding, and treat and feed girls and boys equally and patiently.

Mealtimes provide the opportunity for mothers and fathers or other caregivers to interact and talk with children and support their learning. This helps to stimulate social and emotional development.

It is important to encourage children to eat, but not to force-feed them. Each child's needs vary due to differences in breastmilk intake and variability in growth rate. Infants need to be fed directly. Young children should be assisted when they are learning to feed themselves.

If a child refuses to eat a variety of foods, the caregiver can experiment with different food combinations, tastes, textures and methods of encouragement. The caregiver should minimize distractions during meals if the child loses interest easily.

Girls and boys require the same amount of attention and time for feeding. They should receive the same quantity and quality of food and drink. They both need to be breastfed for the first six months and receive an adequate variety and quantity of foods after six months. It is important for both mothers and fathers to be informed about child nutrition. Both parents should take part in feeding their daughters and sons.