Hunger is an ugly word for living creatures. And when it is coupled with the word childhood, it becomes even more disturbing. For many, childhood hunger is an image of a third world child or children living under miserable conditions.
But the problem is right in our own backyard, and the victims should always be helped and protected from hunger. Traditional families seem to be the hardest hit and most of these families face financial struggles.
Nutrition and nurturing during the first three years are both crucial for lifelong health and well being. In infancy, no gift is more precious than breastfeeding. In our countries barely one in three infants is exclusively breastfed during the first four months of life.
Faulty feeding practices begin with giving any other nourishment but breast milk before complementary feeding is nutritionally required. Early substitution for breast milk places babies at risk of illness, and even death.
When complementary feeding begins, uninformed decisions can also interfere with good nutrition in terms of which foods are given, how much and how often and whether breastfeeding continues, as it should.
Nutritionally inadequate or contaminated food and starting complementary feeding too early or too late are major causes of malnutrition in infants and young children.