Child growth standards

Q. What needs to be done/addressed/changed/improved so that all children grow well according to these standards?

A. Breastfeeding should be supported, protected, and promoted. For the first 6 months, mothers need to be informed and empowered to practice exclusive breastfeeding. Children should be provided safe, wholesome, and nutritionally appropriate foods during the period of complementary feeding and after the second year when breastfeeding has ceased. Sound nutritional practices are important throughout childhood. Appropriate national guidelines should be developed to aid caregivers in choosing nutritious local foods in correct combinations and amounts to feed their children in order to maintain optimal growth in later childhood (the aim being to avoid both nutritional deficiencies and excesses).

Vaccinations and good health care should be available and accessible to all infants and young children. Families and their communities should do all they can to insure that mothers have a good pregnancy.

Nationally, full implementation of the objectives of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (2002) would go a long way in creating supportive environments for mothers to breastfeed their children. The new standard can help stimulate change that facilitates these improvements. Therefore, the very first step should be implementing the new standard in every country and ensuring that every child has his/her own chart against which his/her growth is assessed followed by an appropriate follow up.