Thursday, 2 April 2015

MOTHERS’ HELPLINE: Nutrition focus-Mother and Baby

 Nutritionist Josephine Mbuthi
Q: I am expecting my second born child, I never had any nutrition advice during my first child but when I went to the clinic, I was advised to see one. Is it important?

A. It is important to see a nutritionist at three stages:
1. During your pregnancy
2. When your child is breastfeeding
3. When your child starts weaning

Different people react differently to different foods, even babies; the first stage prepares you for the incoming baby. The second stage will give you appropriate guidance whereas the third stage will give you the Do’s and the Don't s when weaning your child. It is very important to seek professional advice to avoid your child getting preventable illnesses and deficiencies and note that at each stage special nutrients may be required by different mothers.

Q:  I am told blended pumpkin and spinach is the best for my growing baby. Is that so?

A. It is not recommended to give your child spinach. Seek the advice of a nutritionist to have a well balanced diet for your child. Foods rich in iron are good but not too much, you need those foods that can reach the child’s energy needs.
Blending is also not very good when your child is in the weaning process. I would prefer you mush the food rather than blend it. Teach them how to chew and not just swallow.  

Q:  People suggest that I start to teach my child to feed as early as four months, is that necessary or can I wait longer?

A. You should EXCLUSIVELY breastfeed for A COMPLETE SIX MONTHS. After that then you can COMPLEMENT the breast feeding. You can introduce the solid foods but continue breast feeding up to 2 years or beyond.

Q: My child prefers brown porridge to white porridge, but my mother pesters me to give her the white porridge. Is the brown one a problem? 

A. Brown porridge is a wheat product and wheat products should be introduced to the young ones past one year. Therefore wimbi, weetabix even bread, are some wheat products that we often give, but should be introduced after the child is above a year old. It is important to see a nutritionist.

Q. I leave with my parents, who watch my baby when I am at work; my family is accustomed to cow milk because we have easy access to it as compared to Formula milk, which is better for the child?

A. A child’s digestive system may not be as advanced as yours therefore, we should not give them a hard time. Formula is easily digested by the child as compared to cow milk. However, even before introducing formula to your child it is important to see a nutritionist to advice on the best kind of formula.  Animal proteins, milk and meat, should be introduced to the child between 9 months and 1 year or more. High indigestion is likely to cause colic.

Q.  I have gained excessive weight in my pregnancy. I am constantly eating because according to my relatives, I am eating for two. What should I do to control my weight gain?

A. Pregnancy is not a ticket for you to eat the way you want, that is the importance of getting maternal nutrition advice. Put in more quality foods that are rich in iron, calcium and omega3, that will be of use to you and somehow your child.

Q. I started weaning my child and they had an allergic reaction. How can I identify the problem? I have continued weaning, the allergy comes and goes?

A. You will need to start your weaning process all over again. When you notice an allergic reaction, IMMEDIATELY STOP the feed. Introduce the foods one by one, and monitor the reaction at least for three days after the feed, this way you can tell which react with the baby and remove them from the diet.

Q. I have heard about the Micro Nutrients Proteins, what are they?
MNP Packet and a sachet

A. These are supplements recommended by the Ministry Of Health for children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. The ministry also advices mothers to take them with the advice of a nutritionist. We have them here at the Karen Hospital; they contain 15 proteins that are vital for the child. They are mainly vitamin and mineral formulations that prevent deficiencies that could lead to anemia and malnutrition.

Q. When I go to the clinic I always feel like my child is underweight. The other babies even less than him in age, are bigger, is there a standard weight He should be?

A. There is no standard weight for any child, but there is a suitable weight. Just like adults your weight should be in relation to your height and age. See a professional to identify a suitable weight for your child.

Hygiene is of great importance when weaning your child. It is during the same time that your child starts teething. They will put anything in their mouth, ensure their hands are clean. It is also important to introduce water in your child’s diet when weaning starts (after six months). Water helps to prevent constipation and should be given to the child after every meal.

Josephine Mbuthi is a resident Nutritionist at the Karen Hospital and is available Mon-Fri from 8am to 5.30pm.