Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Health Ministry urged parents to provide healthy food and food portions to their children according to their age group.

"The need for infants and toddlers must be met especially during the golden period of growth. We can still pursue optimal growth during this period with balanced nutritional intake," the ministry's acting director of nutrition and mother, child health (KIA), Ni Made Diah Permata Laksmi, stated in Jakarta, Monday.

Laksmi emphasized that the First 1,000 Days of Life (HPK) is a golden period for a child's growth. During that period, parents must be observant in maintaining their growth and development.

"As an effort to prevent stunting in children from an early age, babies aged 0-6 months must be given exclusive breastfeeding by their mothers. Breast milk is considered to be able to meet all the needs of babies at that age," she remarked.

After the child is over six months of age, the content in breast milk is less able to meet the child's nutrition. Hence, at this age, parents can slowly introduce complementary foods (MPASI) that are rich in balanced nutrition with animal protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

"Parents must be able to provide animal protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables can be introduced but fat must be prioritized from animal protein," she stated.

According to Laksmi, the World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends that children should be given animal protein, such as catfish, anchovies, or eggs, especially during the 1,000 HPK period to prevent stunting in children.

"Data from the United States Food and Agriculture Organization shows low egg consumption, even though it is very good for pursuing child growth. Consumption of protein sourced from animals, such as meat, is also low, and as compared to other countries, our consumption is under 40 grams while in Australia, it is already above 160 grams," she stated.

Laksmi said parents can gradually give their children two to three main meals, followed by one or two side dishes.

In children aged 6-8 months, MPASI should be given with a soft texture by filtering it. Thereafter, after entering the age of 9-11 months, the texture of the food given can be a little rougher like chopped food.

When a child turns 11 months of age or enters 12 months, parents can slowly start giving food with a texture that is similar to adult food that is offered through three to four heavy meals along with one to two snacks.

"Every time the child eats, the animal protein must be provided, such as eggs or fish, to maintain the children's growth and prevent stunting," she said.

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Translator: Hreeloita Dharma S, Resinta S
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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