1 2 3 - Let's Learn to Eat!
Childhood nutrition and parenting are inextricably connected. Appropriate parent feeding practices and child eating behaviour lays the foundation for life-long eating habits and good health. Often parents find it a difficult task. Interventions are needed in early feeding to assist parents to understand their child’s eating behaviour and to feed them nutritious food.
Nutritious food helps the physical development of the child, while parenting helps in the mental and spiritual development of the child,” according to Yashika Bhavsar, a Certified Lactation Professional and Nutritionist from Gujarat who has launched a one-of-a-kind service named Nutrihood with Panay launched last year.
“My son Panay became my inspiration to follow my dream. With him, I implemented all the theoretical nutrition-based knowledge that I pursued during my education,” Yashika said.
Her institution has programmes on nutrition (Preconception to Toddlerhood), Lactation (Breastfeeding awareness from Pregnancy to Lactation age), and Parenting (Pregnancy to Preschool years). She is supported by her sister-in-law Khyati Bhavsar qualified in Human Development and Family Studies in parenting programmes.
Children in our country are either undernourished or over-nourished and only a few getting the right feed. This is due to lack of parental awareness and most of the time, they are driven by advertisements. “I recommend diet plans with locally available ingredients to parents. I focus on home-cooked meals only. I want people to be aware of locally available foods and their nutritious value. I have been following the nutritional guidelines offered by UNICEF.”
When feeding the child, parents have to be involved in it and not watch TV or looking at mobile phones. Instead, parents should talk to them and make their eating process a good one.”
Often women get confused about what to eat during pregnancy and after childbirth. And there are several misconceptions about feeding infants and toddlers. “Thus, we have come up with different nutrition counselling programmes for different age groups of children, pregnant ladies, and breastfeeding mothers.”
Yashika says, “Even though you have enough knowledge about breastfeeding, a support system is a must at the time of delivery and in the first week of delivery. I have seen that after delivery (C-Section or normal) infants are given formula feed as the mother is unaware or not mentally prepared for doing breastfeeding. Breast milk is the best milk for the child and if a child is attached to its mother’s breasts within one hour they can start sucking and can effectively breastfeed easily as they are most active in that one hour.
Breastmilk provides adequate nutrition to the child which no other milk can give to the child. Lactation counselling during and after pregnancy is a must so that the mother is mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared for breastfeeding. Also, proper nutrition to the mother should be assured for adequate milk production. We offer different lactation programmes including lactation counselling for working mothers.”
21st Century Parenting
Many times, we have observed that people become parents first and then they learn about nutrition and parenting from the people around them. “Therefore, there is a need of to create more awareness about nutrition and parenting. We curated our programmes with this thought. We start our parenting sessions from early pregnancy. Parents' especially mother's mental health during pregnancy directly affects the foetus. A strong and healthy connection has to be made with the child right from the womb,” she said.
In nuclear families where both husband and wife may be stressed working day and night, they need to follow a schedule of spending time with kids and choosing the right foods for them, thus making a good start in their parenting life.