The Nation: November 21, 2009
KARACHI – Regular physical activity is part and parcel of a child’s growth and development, and there are simple, low-cost ways to keep children active and fit at home, even indoors.
This was stated by Dr Maqbool Qadir, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), while speaking during an awareness programme held on World Children Day 2009.
Dispelling the claim that involving children in indoor activities is challenging, Dr Qadir said that simple games, such as hide and seek, crawling through a home-made tunnel or an obstacle course, tag and skipping, all involve physical exercise that helps in keeping children fit.
“Exercises like `hopscotch’ involve jumping and landing besides improving balance and hand-eye coordination,” said Dr Qadir. Active children are more likely to become active adults who follow a healthy lifestyle. “The best way to encourage healthy eating is to set a good example yourself. If your child sees you eating a variety of healthy foods, he or she will be more likely to give them a try also,” said Dr Rehan Ali, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, AKUH addressing the most common problem mothers face, of children not wanting to eat food.
He said it is important to let a child choose what to eat, as long as it is nutritious. Sometimes a child may want to eat a particular food again and again for a while, and then not want to eat it at all.
Just as teaching a child how to eat right is important, teaching them when to stop eating, when they no longer feel hungry, is essential to a healthy lifestyle today, he stated.
Dr Aisha Yousafzai, Child Development Specialist, AKUH spoke about early childhood, from birth to three years of age, as the most important period for a child development, as this is when the brain develops rapidly.
She stressed on the importance of family support during these years, since this is the time when the foundation for future learning, language ability and social-emotional behaviours is laid.
“Infants learn from birth, by exploring the world around them, by seeing, copying, hearing and practising new skills. The more stimulation for learning we provide, the greater the development benefits,” said Dr Yousafzai.
A child’s health is dependent on the mother’s health, according to Dr Shazia Masheer, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. From the time before pregnancy till delivery and after birth, maternal health and nutrition are essential cornerstones of safe motherhood and child survival, she said and added that care should start before pregnancy with family planning and good maternal nutrition, said Dr Masheer.
According to her women who enter their reproductive years well nourished and free of any infection, have a much better chance of being healthy throughout pregnancy and delivery, and of passing the good health along to their child.
source – The Nation