In Nigeria, 37 percent of children or 6 million children are stunted (chronically malnourished or low height for age). Twenty-nine percent of children are underweight (both acutely and chronically malnourished or low weight for age).  Inadequate consumption of the right food in the right proportion causes Malnutrition. These can lead to a whole lot of diseases like beriberi, kwashiorkor and anaemia as a result of a deficiency of one or more nutrients needed for the child’s growth and development. Being undernourished can also cause stunt growth in children. It is imperative to choose the right foods that help accelerate growth in malnourished children which gives them the best chance at reaching their full potential. Some of these foods include:

High-calorie foods

Choosing foods that are high in calories and rich in nutrients will help accelerate the growth rate of malnourished children. This provides strength and weight that the child needs to perform daily activities. It also helps to improve the mental performance of the child .Some examples of these foods are whole milk, peanut butter, Nuts, seeds cheese, whole milk, avocados and dried fruit.For children who need additional calories to reach healthy body weights, add powdered milk to beverages, High-calorie nutrition shakes and supplements are an option but should be used only under medical supervision

Dairy foods

Dairy foods are protein-rich foods which help children who consume them regularly to improve their health, boost their immunity against infection and improve their mental performance. A 2006 study published in “Public Health Nutrition” found that consumption of dairy products like cow’s milk is associated with increased insulin-like growth factor and leg length in children. Most children need 2 to 3 cups of dairy foods such as cow’s milk, cheese, cottage cheese or yogurt daily, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010

Protein foods

The impact of protein consumption in the body is high. Consumption of these foods helps children to grow healthy. It also prevents diseases like Kwashiorkor, which is a dietary protein deficiency that can cause delayed growth in children. The Institute of Medicine suggests that children ages 9 to 13 need at least 34 grams of protein daily, kids ages 4 to 8 require 19 grams and children ages 1 to 3 should get at least 13 grams of dietary protein each day. Examples of these high-protein foods include legumes, eggs, soy products, wheat protein, lean meat, turkey, chicken, fish such as salmon and catfish. In addition, you can consume all dairy foods  as they are proteinous in nature

Vitamins

Getting plenty of vitamins like water soluble and fat soluble vitamins are essential to prevent various infections. They also help your children grow healthy and strong thus preventing malnutrition. These vitamins include; vitamins A which give good sight, vitamin B which aids in the metabolism of food/Others are Vitamin C which helps in fighting infections and vitamin D helps for strong bones and teeth. Although taking nutrient supplements is OK for children, you may find these vitamins abundant in fruits and vegetables.

Minerals

These are nutrients similar to vitamins you need in small quantities for proper development of the body. They include; iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium and sodium. You need these minerals for strong bones and teeth, good blood circulation and overall wellbeing of the body. They are present in meats, poultry, seafood, some fortified breakfast cereals and legumes. A study in 2010 with the title “Journal of Paediatrics Endocrinology and Metabolism” reported that supplementing with vitamin A, iron and zinc helps accelerate growth in short children born small for their gestational age.

Water

This is an important nutrient which you must not overlook. Water aids digestion and prevents constipation. You also need it for good blood circulation in the body. Ensure your children take at least 2-3 cups of water daily to prevent dehydration. Water is present in most foods like fruits and vegetables. Basically, water and milk are best choices for kids, soft drinks, soda are great. However, you should put them on limits to avoid your child from adding too many calories thus preventing childhood obesity.