What every family and community should know about Child Growth (part 3)

The following is lifted from Facts for Life, Philippine National Edition, published by the Philippine Information Agency in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Supporting Information on Child Growth

  1. Children between the ages of six months and three years should be weighed every month. If there is no weight gain for two months, something is wrong.

Regular monthly weight gain is the most important sign of a child’s overall health and development. It is the child’s own weight gain which is important, now how the child compares in weight to other children.

It is therefore important to weight children every month. If a child is being held back either by illness, or poor food, or lack of attention. The following paragraphs cover the most likely causes of poor growth, and the most important actions parents can take to keep a child growing well.

Ten Questions to Ask if a Child is not Growing

Breastfeeding helps protect a baby and ensure its growth for the first few months of life. Immunization in the first year of life is also essential – it protects against diseases which causes undernutrition.

When other foods have to be given in addition to breastmilk, at the age of six months, the risk of infection increases. From now on, it is especially important to check that the child is putting on weight regularly from one month to the next. If a child under the age of three is not gaining weight, and if the child as good food, these are the ten most important questions to ask.

  • Is the child easting frequently enough? (child should eat 5 or 6 times a day)
  • Do the child’s meals have too little energy in them? (small amounts of oil or fat should be added)
  • Is the child frequently ill? (needs medical attention)
  • Has the child been refusing to eat when ill? (needs tempting to eat when ill and extra meals to catch up afterwards)
  • Is the child getting eough Vitamin A? (needs dark green vegetables every day)
  • Is the child being bottle-fed? (bottle and water may not be clean, sugary drinks may be being used instead of milk)
  • Are food and water being kept clean? (if not, child will often be ill)
  • Are feces being put into a latrine or buried? (if not, child will often be ill)
  • Does the child have worms? (needs deworming medicine from health center)
  • Is the child alone too much? (needs more stimulation and attention)