What makes Children strong and healthy
We are constantly faced with the following question: What are the real pathogenic factors in the lives of our children, and is there a healthy resilience that ensures and maintains child health? Are there ways to mobilize and maintain or, when deficient, restore the forces that ensure health?
The health of our children can be strengthened in several ways. First, the child's interface with its environment must stimulate its own immune defences. For this, there must be a pathological process that triggers a healing response.
Plant and mineral remedies can strengthen the immune system by causing a natural healing process.
Fever is also a way to activate the forces of resistance, especially in a child’s body. A welcoming and harmonious environment also has therapeutic effects on the body and soul of a child. Beautiful colourful pictures, suitable toys, natural materials, picture books that stimulate the imagination – all have a beneficial influence on the souls of children.
It is difficult to establish a healthy defence against all disturbances present in the child's environment. Bodily diseases are the most obvious, but lack of initiative and imagination, which foster creative activity, can have less obvious consequences.
But the record is clear: television, video games, computers, drugs and online courses have a negative influence on the imagination and hinder the freedom of choice of the child.
By calling on natural defences and treating illness as a call to overcome obstacles, one preserves health by making the child more resistant. These are tasks that require courage and daily commitment – both inner and outer – on the part of parents.
Dr. Erdmut J. Schädel. Pediatrician
Child Nutrition. No boring mush!
More and more, we are discovering the importance of nutrition for child growth and development. Mere quantity is no longer sufficient; thought also needs to be given to its quality and composition.
In the mother's body the child receives all its nutrients from the maternal blood. In this period, the diet of the mother is essential. The negative influence of products such as nicotine or alcohol is well-known, but of course the diet of the mother also has a positive influence on the child if it is balanced and rich in fruits and vegetables. Bio-dynamic (Demeter) or organic quality contributes to the proper development of the unborn child. Not only are nutrients important, but also their taste, because when already in the mother's body the child perceives the aromas in the amniotic fluid from the mother's diet.
After birth, a new feeding phase begins. Ideally, this is provided by breast milk, which is tailored to a baby's needs and makes every meal delicious, enriching the child’s sensory experiences. WHO recommends feeding a child breast milk for six months. It should be breastfed for at least four months, beyond which it is possible to introduce a more diversified diet. In the event that a mother cannot breastfeed, the child must be given a bottle feed that suits its needs and approximates the nutrients of breast milk. It should also be delicious. Parents should really taste what their child is drinking. Artificial milks (formulas) are different in quality, both as regards their ingredients and their degree of processing.
Breastfeeding with diverse foods
The next phase of the diet begins when the child can sit up and move alone, thereby increasing its nutritional needs. Interest in new foods is part of this phase. Dietary supplements can be given in addition to breast milk or simultaneously with it, gradually replacing the liquid meal. Research has shown that dietary components like gluten (a protein found in wheat, spelt and barley) are better digested if the child continues at the same time to be breastfed. For most children, the most appropriate food is pureed. The more food is pureed and fine, the easier it is to chew and swallow. Different food groups are gradually introduced: vegetables and fruits, cereals and milk, fat and possibly meat. But we can also offer the child a lacto-vegetarian diet, although a strict vegan diet involves risk. It is easy to make purees with fresh organic products. There is no need to create a great culinary experience or to spend a great deal of time. Baby food jars must be prepared at very high temperatures for hygiene and conservation reasons. They are naturally very convenient when traveling. They can also be found in bio-dynamic (Demeter) quality.
There are children who refuse pureed food and already want to participate in family meals. These children are awake to the senses. Often strong-willed, they imitate their parents and siblings earlier. Most children, however, need to stay for some time with weak, warm puree and assistance from parents or educators during meals. One should observe carefully one’s child to find out what he or she likes and can eat.
Good for sensory memory
The next phase of childhood nutrition begins during the second year. Now, the child adapts to family meals or those provided in day care. When the child learns the taste of food, eating habits are being established, a kind of sensory memory. During this period, it is important to ensure the quality of flavours. They are initially related to how the food has been grown and the choice of seasonal products. Increasingly important today is the adoption of a reasonable attitude towards sweet foods. The range and amount on offer to children is too great. Breakfast should not be too sweet, because it is one of the main meals. From time to time one can provide a sweet dish at lunchtime, something children often love very much, of course.
Helping in the Kitchen – a Great Teacher
As the child grows, so does its palette and range of food. This interest can be stimulated if children are allowed to help in the kitchen. Children also want to see how the things they eat are grown on the farm, in the garden, or on the balcony. This creates a very different relationship than is possible with packaged or prepared foods. Many kindergartens and schools are realizing the important role they can play today in the field of food education. But in families too – even if you cannot find the time until the weekend – one can prepare a dish together. Meals are a social time and relate us to life. In this sense, the pleasure of eating is just as important as choosing healthy food. These two elements are fundamental to the relationship the child has with food, especially later.
Dr Petra Kühne. Nutritionist
Petra Kühne, Säuglingsernährung. Babykost selbst zubereiten, Arbeitskreis für Ernährungsforschung, 11. Auflage, 2012 (‘Infant feeding. Prepare your baby’s food yourself.’)