The first few years in a child’s life are most crucial for its growth and development. It takes that much time as bones, organs and tissues are still developing and reach full function in few more years. In this scenario nutritious diet is all the more important that assists in both physical and mental development of the child. A good start in early years gives the child an opportunity to blossom into a healthy young man or a woman. The most important aspect in a child’s life is its continued good health. The immune system has not yet become robust and consequently he or she is still vulnerable to illnesses. Even a small or seemingly trivial problem can blow out of proportion and take a child in its grip with dire consequences. Therefore, proper care should be exercised when dealing with children. What medication works for an adult might not be safe for a small child of say, 3 years. All childcare programs, nursing homes and hospitals provide elaborate instructions and guidelines on how to take proper care.
As the famous proverb goes, ‘Health is Wealth’, the health of a child takes precedence over every other aspect in the first few years. It will be worth relating a few points for the sake of discussion, compiled by WHO and UNDP concerning the inoculation of infants and children. Vaccinating children against life threatening diseases is an important activity that protects them against deadly diseases. Those that are vaccinated appropriately and regularly since birth till a few years as mandated, have much higher longevity and life expectancy than those who are not. This is the reason why children who live to see their fifth birthday are expected to live longer with reduced risk to life. All that which could go wrong with a child, goes wrong till the age of 5. If a child is not properly inoculated in childhood then the risk of life threatening diseases is much higher and in all probability the diseases would have struck before the child reaches the fifth birthday, often with devastating consequences.
Apart from inoculation, what the child is fed also has a lot of bearing on the general state of health throughout the child’s life. Proper nutrition at relevant life stages during the formative years holds the key to how the child shapes up in future. Will the child blossom into a healthy young person, depends on what the child has been fed since birth? Some parents feed junk food like sodas, colas, processed food, fried & oily stuff and ice creams to their little child that does so much harm. Feeding processed foods like biscuits, snacks, colas and fried stuff right from early childhood has serious repercussions on the child’s health. He or she grows with compromised overall health due to excess intake of sugar, salt and oil. Often parents hand out liberal amounts of such foods as these are convenient and easy to procure in comparison to regular and tradition foods that are messy, inconvenient and time consuming. Some parents keep their child away from natural diets like fruits and cereals which is just as bad as keeping the child on processed foods.
Some parents make their little child watch TV and mobile phone to distract it so that it stops crying and they themselves get some peace. Although the child stops crying and consumes food quietly, little do the parents realise that they are forming a deadly habit which affects its eyes as well as makes the child subservient to technology.
Children who suffer debilitation either due to deadly diseases or malnutrition have something or the other to lose in life. Severe infections during childhood leading to hospitalization could lower academic performances in later school life. These children suffer a kind of a setback that puts them behind a normal schedule of their physical and mental development as well as progress in life. Once struck with major health issues, the child does not fully recover the initial loss of momentum of growth and development. It has been seen that if the child suffers from health issues then he or she is unable to focus on other important things like education and play, both of which are important for overall development of the body and the mind. This is the reason why proper attention should be paid to the child in the first 4 to 5 years. A child will be able to stay put and attend school and other activities like play and entertainment only if he or she enjoys good health. Frequent breaks and remissions from school on account of ill health does not help reinforce learning levels and outcomes. For if the child is healthy only then will he or she be able to carve out a glorious future by acquiring good education. Consequently, the country also reaps a rich dividend out of the employment that he or she engages in as an adult.
All this is so true and relevant to the times today. Wonder why people ignore such an important issue of proper nourishment !
Nice article on importance of balanced nutrition in kids and childcare