A dietician, Ernestina Eduful has admonished parents and caregivers to allow their year-old children to join the family table during mealtimes.
She is kicking against the practice where toddlers are fed in isolation.
Speaking on the topic “Mental Well-being and Growth: Foods All Children Need” at this year’s Zero to Five virtual conference over the weekend, Ernestina Eduful said infants from 12 months old should join families during mealtimes and must not be fed in isolation.
Ms. Eduful urged mothers to “encourage healthy eating habits by involving children during cooking. Food must also be made colourful and can sometimes be made into different shapes.”
Touching on the topic: “The benefits of early exposure to books and reading”, an Associate Professor at the University of Sacramento, who doubles as a licensed Paediatric and Speech Language Pathologist, Dr Tonia Davis said early exposure to books breaks the cycle of poverty.
“Parents with less education can introduce children to books by describing pictures and average families that can afford should have at least 10 books in the home,” she said.
An Occupational therapist, Nancy Agyei urged parents to expose children to outdoor activities.
This according to her is critical to their development of motor and self-care skills.
“Exposing a child to outdoor activities improves their fine and gross motor skills development. Children who skip crawling in their developmental milestones could later develop fine motor skills difficulty,” Ms. Agyei advised.
Touching on the topic “Communication Milestones”, Professor Eliza A. Thompson, a Speech Language Pathologist, said parents must endeavour to speak to children in their native language.
“Teach functional vocabulary in the first 3 years of a child’s life, for instance water, cup etc instead of shapes, colours and sizes.”
“Speak to children in local languages to promote bilingualism. Speaking two languages can be likened to having two brains,” she admonished.
The conference host, Gifty Ayoka, who doubles as the Founder of Talking Tipps Africa Foundation, charged the participants to use the new information they have acquired to help support children within the zero to five age range.
“This is because a child’s brain makes 1 million neural connections per second. That’s how fast a child’s brain is developing between birth and age five,” Ms. Ayoka said.
“Every second is important in helping babies learn the essentials they need to live and develop within the family system, community, and everywhere they find themselves,” she added.
The conference which was organised by Talking Tipps Africa Foundation sought to empower the earliest contacts of children with the requisite knowledge to support the cognitive, social, emotional, fine and gross motor skills development.
Organisers of the conference are optimistic the forum will go a long way to equip preschool teachers, parents, community health workers, pediatricians, doctors, teachers and policymakers to better handle their children at an early age.
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