Recommended Food For Children In Their Very Early Years

Breast milk is the best food for the healthy growth and development of infants. Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. After six months, they should be fed adequate and safe complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond.

Complementary food is the additional nutrient-rich food and drink that is recommended for children from six months of life. The transition from exclusive breastfeeding to complementary feeding (which includes continued breastfeeding) typically covers the period from 6 to 18–24 months of age. This is a very vulnerable period as it is the time when malnutrition starts in many children. Thus it is essential that infants receive appropriate, adequate and safe complementary foods to ensure the right transition from breastfeeding to the full use of family foods.

These recommendations are made in the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, which was jointly developed by WHO and UNICEF in 2003.

The strategy is a guide for countries to develop policies and implement activities addressing feeding practices and the nutritional status, growth and health of infants and children. It is based both on the evidence that nutrition plays a crucial role in the early months and years of life, and on the importance of appropriate feeding practices in achieving optimal health.

Lack of appropriate feeding can set up risk factors for ill-health. The life-long impact may include poor school performance, reduced productivity, impaired intellectual and social development, or chronic diseases.

Source: WHO Labels:


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