Infant health troubles

Dr. C.N. Kamalarathnam is professor and head of the department of neonatology, Institute of Child Health, Egmore, Chennai

I recently gave birth to a healthy girl child. I’m wondering if there is any specific diet I should follow for her. How many times in a day should I breastfeed her? — Amala Deshpande, Mumbai

For new-borns, the best food is mother’s milk. WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends that all infants are exclusively breastfed for six months. I don’t recommend feeding the baby any type of pre-lacteal or to substitute breast with any other type of milk. Sometimes, breastfeed[1]ing may not be possible if a mother is ill. Only in such cases, the mother’s milk should be substituted.

I suggest mothers feed their newborns about six-eight or even 10-12 times a day, every two-three hours. As the infant grows, the feeding can be on demand. But it’s important to ensure that your child urinates at least five-six times per day. After a good feed, she should also sleep soundly. Generally, if the baby weighs 5 kg in the first month, she will need about 500 ml of milk in a week, for about two months. For about a year, new mothers must feed 100 ml of milk per kg weight every day. After six months, semi-solid food can be added to her diet to complement breast milk.

I’m worried about my seven-year-old son who hates to play outdoors not getting enough Vitamin D. Help! — Sowmya Kumar, Bengaluru

The human body produces Vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. Ideally this happens when the body is exposed to sunlight from about 10 a.m-11 a.m for at least 20 minutes. So, if children play outdoors around that time, it is sufficient.

Choice of clothing is also important. If a child is fully covered, sunlight absorption is low adversely affecting production of Vitamin D.

There aren’t many natural suppliers of Vitamin D, but egg yolk is rich in this vitamin. Additionally, chicken liver and fish liver oil also contain Vitamin D. Include fish, organ meat and nuts in his diet; it will ensure he gets the required dose of Vitamin D. Nurturing 21st Century children ask the doctor I am the mother of a six-month-old girl.

What is the average sleep time required for her and how do I ensure she’s sleeping safely? — Shivasankari Kumar, Chennai

Newborns usually sleep at least 18 hours per day. As the infant grows, time spent sleeping decreases, because of external stimulation and brain development. Newborns also need 3-4 hours sleep before they are fed. Create a quiet sleeping environment and ensure she is well-fed. Appropriate lighting and a loving mother’s touch is also very helpful.

My 12-year-old son spends a lot of time on his computer because of online classes. How can he avoid eye and back strain?

Ideally, children shouldn’t work on the computer for more than one-two hours. But given the current pandemic situation and closure of schools, this is not possible. Ensure periodic breaks from screen time, good seating posture, and optimal lighting to prevent eye strain. Also encourage him to play outdoors with peers.

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