Weight gain is the most important sign that a child is healthy and is growing and developing well.
From birth to 1 year of age, infants should be weighed at least once every month. From 1–2 years of age they should be weighed at least once every three months.
Good nutrition in the first two years of life is crucial. Inadequate nutrition during this period can slow a child's physical and mental development for the rest of his or her life.
The following gives information on how often and how much a young child should be fed:
Children should breastfeed frequently and receive other foods two to three times a day. Parents should start with soft or mushy foods (such as porridge) and gradually increase the consistency (thickness) of food. Animal foods such as meat, eggs and fish can be given as early as possible, but they should be mashed, minced or cut into very small pieces. Start with 2–3 spoonfuls per feeding, increasing gradually to 1/2 of a 250-millilitre cup.
Children should receive other foods three to four times a day in addition to breastfeeding. Give infants aged 9–11 months 1/2 of a 250-millilitre cup per feeding. Provide children aged 12–23 months 3/4 to 1 whole 250-millilitre cup per feeding. Give children 2 years and older at least 1 whole 250-millilitre cup per feeding. Foods from animals, such as meat, fish and eggs, should be included as much as possible.
By 12 months:
Most children are able to consume 'family foods' of a solid consistency. They can still be offered semi-solid foods, which are easier for young children to eat. Additional nutritious snacks (such as fruit, bread or bread with nut paste) can be offered once or twice per day, as desired, starting at six months. If the quality or amount of food per meal is low, or the child is no longer breastfeeding, give 1–2 cups of milk plus one or two extra meals each day.