July Topic | Nutrition | What Can Children Do?

Our July topic is Nutrition.

Our 100 Health Messages for Children to Learn and Share are simple, reliable health education messages aimed at children aged 8-14, this includes young adolescents aged 10-14. We feel that it is especially useful and important to make sure that young adolescents are informed as this age group often cares for young children in their families. Also, it’s important to recognise and praise the work they are doing to help their families in this way.

The messages are arranged as 10 messages in 10 key health topics: Malaria, Diarrhoea, Nutrition, Coughs, Colds & Pneumonia, Intestinal Worms, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, Immunisation, HIV & Aids, Accidents & Preventing Injuries and Caring for Babies & Young Children. The simple health messages are for parents and health educators to use with children at home and in schools, clubs and clinics.

Our messages on Nutrition:

  1. To have a balanced healthy diet, eat different food of different kinds. GO, GROW and GLOW for strong bodies and happy minds!
  2. Malnutrition means Bad Nutrition and happens if we eat too little, too much or mostly junk food. Avoid malnutrition! Sit and eat enough good food at mealtimes, but not too much.
  3. To check that babies and young children are growing well watch and help record their lengths and weight at a clinic as often as instructed by a health worker.
  4. Help avoid lifelong harm to young children. Tell adults to have them checked if you see their arms or body looking thin or their face or feet looking swollen.
  5. When young children are ill they may not eat well. Give them healthy drinks e.g. breast milk, milk or home-made soup. Also, give extra food when they start to feel better.
  6. Be a breast milk champion! Breast milk is always fresh and clean and the ONLY food and drink a baby needs from birth to 6 months.
  7. Help prepare and give older babies good food (6 months to 2 years). They need breast milk plus family food and snacks 3-4 times a day.
  8. Eat a rainbow of fruits, vegetables including leaves (red, orange, yellow and green). They contain micronutrients too small to see, but vital for our body and mind.
  9. Wash your hands well using water and a little soap. Rub for 20 seconds, rinse, shake and air-dry after toilet and before preparing food and eating.
  10. Wash fresh food well as you prepare it. Use cooked food immediately or make sure it’s stored away from flies to make it safe to eat later.

These health messages have been reviewed by expert health educators and medical experts and are available on the Health ORB website too.

A woman weighs a baby in a sling while two other children look on.

What can children Make, Do & Ask to better understand this topic?

Here are some ideas for activities children can do to understand more about our July topic and share the messages with others.

  • MAKE our own NUTRITION messages using our own words in our own language!
  • MEMORISE the messages so we never forget them!
  • SHARE these messages with other children and our families.
  • FIND and look at a growth chart and with other children and an adult to help, work out what all the lines mean. This is sometimes called a Road to Health chart and can be found at your health clinic.
  • GO to a health clinic and watch while babies are weighed and have their weights plotted onto a growth chart.
  • WATCH while babies and young children are weighed and measured at health clinics.
  • DISCUSS if there are any children they know who are or might be malnourished and what they can do to help.
  • RECORD What I/my family eats each day/each week? How many natural colours do we eat each week? Does everyone in our family get enough food to make sure they GROW, GLOW and GO? How do we know? IS there anyone especially old or especially young that needs us to notice who much or how little they are eating?
  • ASK and LISTEN to stories about when food caused people to get ill.
  • FIND OUT from parents, health workers or others how they know if a child is malnourished.
  • DRAW a picture chart showing foods that are bad for babies and young children and WRITE next to each food why it is bad.
  • FIND OUT what mothers give their babies to eat as their first food after 6 months? How often do they feed their babies? They can record the answers and later make a chart with their friends that show the results.
  • FIND OUT what vitamin rich foods are available to most people in the community and how these foods are prepared (in the market and/or at home).
  • OBSERVE how food is prepared, how plates and utensils are washed and dried and when the person preparing the food washes their hands, if they do so properly etc.
  • DRAW pictures and/or write about the foods we eat each day over a week. We can add colour to the pictures or write colour labels for all food.
  • FIND out what mothers give their babies to eat as their first food and after 6 months and record the answers and later make a chart with their friends that show the results.
  • LEARN which foods are good or bad for babies and young children and why? We can draw pictures of this food and make a picture chart that showing our results.
  • ASK how does a growth chart works to check a baby is growing well? What methods are used to dry food or bottle food or other ways to keep food fresh? Why is it important to eat naturally colourful food? What foods are good for people to eat when they are ill and afterwards.
  • FIND OUT from health workers about breastfeeding and the reasons why it is the best choice.
  • ASK what can we do to help a child who is ill get enough good food and drink?
  • FIND OUT which mothers in our community/ among our friends breastfed their babies and why? Ask how does breast milk change as a baby gets older? Why can bottles be dangerous for the health of a baby?
  • CHILDREN can ask their older siblings and others how to tell if food is ‘off’.

For more specific information on feeding and weighing babies, malnutrition, preparing food,
cooking and cleaning up safely afterwords or to learn more about our July topic, see Nutrition!
For anything else, e-mail clare@childrenforhealth.org