Feeding Smart from the Start | Western Cape Government

Feeding Smart from the Start

(Western Cape Government)
National Nutrition Week is an initiative which has been undertaken annually since 1999. National Nutrition Week is commemorated this year from 9 to 13 October 2011 to create awareness on the critical importance of feeding babies 'smart from the start'.

According to the World Health Organization adequate nutrition during infancy is essential for lifelong health and wellbeing. Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health.

From six months of age a baby needs breastmilk and solid foods; to promote health, support growth and enhance development. This is called complementary feeding.

  • After six months introduce new foods to your baby every few days.
  • At six months start with 2 meals a day, with regular breastfeeding. By the age of 10 months your baby should have 5 small meals(including snacks) a day, with continued breastfeeding. Regular small meals / snacks and breastfeeding are recommended until your baby is two years old.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before feeding your baby.
  • Keep everything very clean when preparing food for your baby.

The Nutrition Society of South Africa states that South Africa has adopted the recommendations of WHO and UNICEF in their Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child feeding (2002), which includes exclusive breastfeeding for six months (180 days) and nutritionally adequate and safe complementary feeding starting from six months with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond. HIV positive mothers can now breastfeed for 12 months, provided the mother or baby receives antiretroviral medicine. Evidence suggests that universal coverage of optimal breastfeeding could prevent 13% of deaths in children under five years of age globally while appropriate complementary feeding practices would reduce this mortality rate by an additional 6%.

Read more on infant nutrition on the World Health Organization website.

Read the Infant and young child feeding policy from the Department of Health.

The Nutrition Society of South Africa provides leadership and mentorship, based on appropriate research, in policy formulation, education and training, and practice of nutrition through advocacy and dissemination of information.

Get more nutritional information on healthyeating.net .

The content on this page was last updated on 15 March 2014