Complementary feeding practices in India: Current scenario and challenges ahead
Ritu Pradhan, Anupreet Kaur Sobti
Complementary feeding is an important transition stage from milk feeding to family foods. It is not just necessary for nutrition but also for developmental reasons as infancy is a period of rapid growth and development. The nutritional requirements of infants are enhanced and thus necessary to be fulfilled. Although complementary feeding is a universal practice, the methods and manners in which it is practiced vary between cultures, individuals, and socioeconomic classes. A number of aspects may be considered as desirable features for satisfactory complementary feeding ranging from timely introduction of complementary foods with maintenance of breastfeeding, considering adequate quantity, quality, consistency, frequency and nutritive value of complementary foods. Food- based approaches may also be applied to improve the nutritive value of home-based complementary foods. A number of indicators for IYCF have been introduced by WHO (2021). Despite the importance of breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices for the healthy growth and development of infants and young children and the health of mothers, the data does not seem to be so encouraging. A number of faulty feeding practices in infants and young children resulting in malnutrition have also been highlighted with suggestive recommendations for improvement.