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Facts for Life

Nutrition and growth

Supporting Information


As the child's intake of foods and drinks increases, the risk of diarrhoea substantially increases. Contamination of foods with germs is a major cause of diarrhoea and other illnesses that cause children to lose nutrients and energy needed for growth and development. Good hygiene, safe water and proper handling, preparation and storing of foods are crucial to prevent illnesses.

As children grow and become mobile they put everything in their mouths. They can pick up germs more easily as they explore and discover the world around them. This makes it very important for parents and other caregivers to practice good hygiene, such as hand washing with soap. They also need to handle and prepare food properly, use safe water and keep the living environment clean. These practices are important to prevent diarrhoea and other illnesses and to protect a child's health.

Foods should be served immediately after preparation and leftovers safely stored. Clean utensils and surfaces should be used to prepare and serve food. Children should be fed with clean cups and bowls. Bottles and nipples/teats should be avoided because they are difficult to keep clean.

Five key ways to keep food safe are: keep it clean; separate raw and cooked foods; cook food thoroughly; keep it at a safe temperature; and wash raw food materials in safe water.

(Refer to the Hygiene chapter for more information.)