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3 Barriers That Get In The Way Of Achieving Your Child's Ideal Height And WeightMost of us think our height and weight is based on heredity. But environmental factors count, too.by Dahl D. Bennett .
The first five years is a crucial time in the development of a child, and it includes his height and weight. This is the period where his brain develops faster than at any other time in his life. “The experiences a child is exposed to at this stage helps build millions of connections in his brain. This is when the foundations for learning, health, and behavior throughout life are laid down,” according to the Raising Children website.
In Smart Parenting’s Facebook Live episode titled, “Growth Check Day,” Abbot Philippines medical director, Dr. Jun Dimaano Jr., nutritionist/dietician Julianne Malong and celebrity mom Chesca Garcia-Kramer discussed the common barriers that can keep a child from achieving the ideal height and weight in the first five years.
Dr. Dimaano pointed out the importance of bringing the child to a pediatrician for regular height and weight monitoring, especially in the first two years, and twice a year when the child turns 3. “The importance of that is they know how to monitor the child’s growth, especially when the child gets sick.”
What is the ideal height and weight of a child?
The ideal weight and height can usually be measured against the World Health Organization (WHO) charts, adds Dr. Dimaano. “WHO charts will give you an idea of how tall and heavy the child should be during the first few years of life. You will see if your child is behind,” he says. The WHO charts have separate measurements for boys and girls.
Malong, for her part, says that Filipinos tend to accept that they are destined to be short in height. “This should not be the case,” she points out and cites the Aline Jelenkovic study that says only 40% of a child’s height in the first five years may be attributed to heredity and the rest to environmental factors.
Dr. Dimaano adds that 60 % of a child’s height is already determined by the time he reaches the age of 5, and of that, “60-80% can be affected by environmental factors. “So, we have to take advantage of the first five years of life as a window of opportunity to act so we can optimize the child’s growth.”
3 things that can get in the way of your child's height and weight, according to experts
Malong and Dr. Dimaano identified the three top barriers that get in the way of achieving the ideal height and weight.
1. Infection and/or recurring illness
The Philippines is a tropical country and is prone to infectious diseases. “That’s why it’s important to strengthen the immune system,” says Dr. Dimaano. He cites statistics by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) that says one in three Filipino children are stunted. “That’s a big number, 33 percent! Kailangan talaga punan ito by giving children the proper nutrition and by preventing recurring illness.
Adding to Dr. Dimaano’s point, Malong says, “Stunting or pagkabansot is a sign na merong lack of nutrition. So kapag nagkakasakit yung bata nada-divert yung energy in curing the disease.” They both agree that supplements like milk are essential to help fill in nutrition gaps.
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2. Picky eating and feeding difficulties
Chesca says her youngest, Gavin, while not a picky eater, is easily distracted and ends up being hard to feed. If this happens, Malong suggests using the “food chaining approach,” where the parent starts with the food that the child likes and adding to it as they go along.
“So say from chicken nuggets, go to natural chicken or from or Mac and Cheese go to Mac and Cheese with chicken and broccoli. That can be a very long process to do. Kailangan ng patience,” she shares.
Based on her experience, Chesca says it is crucial to get the child involved and allow him to help out in the preparation. “How I do it with my children is I talk to them. It’s always best to explain to them why they’re eating what they’re eating. So let’s say they don’t want broccoli. How can I make broccoli interesting for them? ‘If it’s not ok for you to eat it as a whole like that, is it ok for me to shred it?’ So I use a cheese grater then I mix with rice,” she shares.
3. Nutritional deficiencies
While she tries to follow the colors needed for a healthy plate, Chesca says she still ends up being unsure. “It’s hard,” she declares. “Even if you prepare the vegetable or protein, how will you know if those are the proper proportions? How will you know that you’re giving enough?” she asks.
Dimaano replies Filipinos can refer to FNRI’s Pinggang Pinoy. “It’s a visual representation as to what should be the types of food and proportion of food that a child from 3-8 years old should be taking in,” he says. FNRI’s Pinggang Pinoy features accessible Pinoy food that best represents the Go, Grow, Glow categories.
“As parents and as caregivers, the best gift of love that we can give our children is the gift of health. And how do we do that? By acting on the first five years of life because we set them up for success this way,” concludes Dimaano.
A chef shares how he managed to get his son to eat vegetables. Find his recipes here.
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