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Here’s how you can improve your child’s health in the new normal

The pandemic has had a significant impact on nutrition, including decreased access to nutrition and related services, an increase in the prevalence of hunger, and many other effects. Positive effects include home food production, improved awareness of one's health and consumption of healthier foods, and the willingness of people to help one another. 

As the Philippines transitions to the “new normal,” the COVID-19 virus remains a threat, especially to the health of young children. It increases the consequences on children's nutrition. To maintain their immunity and to guarantee their continued growth and development, young children under the age of two should eat healthily. 

Here are some tips to make sure that your child can grow healthy during a pandemic: 

1. Keep Breastfeeding

Breastmilk gives a child all the nutrition they require and keeps them from disease up to the age of six months. Additional drinks or meals are not necessary for babies and may even be dangerous. 

Breastmilk has to be enhanced with a variety of meals after six months because it is no longer sufficient on its own. It is advised to continue breastfeeding up to two years of age since it is still a source of nutrition and crucial for immunity.

2. Make sure to give regular meals and a variety of food

From the age of six months, children must consume at least four different food groups every day, including fruit and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, dairy and meat products, and staples like rice. To stay hydrated, they should also consume enough liquids like breast milk and/or filtered water.

For children 3-12 years old, moms can follow the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) “Pinggang Pinoy.” Pinggang Pinoy is a visual tool that encourages Filipinos to adopt healthy eating habits during meal times. It determines how much food is healthy for one meal. It will also act as a quick and simple guide for choosing how much food to eat each meal.

Pinggang Pinoy for 3 - 12 years old

3. Give them healthy snacks and water

Add one or two healthy snacks to eat between meals and plenty of filtered water to keep kids hydrated throughout the day. Pick healthy snacks like soft fruit or vegetables or those that have been sliced into bits appropriate for your child's age.

It may be tempting to provide your child with salty and sweet snacks or carbonated drinks but these foods and beverages are harmful to a child's health. They have extremely high levels of sugar, salt, fat, and chemicals that can harm their teeth and prevent proper growth.

4. Avoid commercialized baby formula and food

Some kids may be used to formula milks or prepared baby food advertised for kids older than six months. This can be because these meals and formula milk are seen as healthy or because moms are no longer able to breastfeed since they have to leave the house for work. For children older than six months, commercially produced baby meals and formula milk are not good for your child’s health because they have extremely high sugar content and/or excessive fats and salt levels.

Every July, the Philippines celebrates Nutrition Month. This year’s theme, “New Normal na Nutrisyon, Sama-Samang Gawan ng Solusyon!” aims to bring attention to the role that nutrition plays in recovery, generate ideas about how to improve the design and implementation of nutrition interventions, and encourage involvement from many sectors in the promotion of nutrition. (PIA-NCR)

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About the Author

Gelaine Louise Gutierrez

Information Officer I

National Capital Region

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