What You Need to Know About Childhood Nutrition

 

Infant bottle with milk inside, with mother picking up her child, in the background.

 

There are many ways to give your children the best possible future, such as saving for their education or having life insurance that will help care for them should the worst happen to you. However, did you know that every time you feed them you're planning for their future? What they eat when they're young can have an effect on their health for the rest of their lives. Even for the most experienced parent, good nutrition doesn't come easy. So here's the lowdown on age-appropriate foods and how much young ones actually need to eat.

 

Birth – Six Months

 

Within their first year, babies typically triple their birth weight, so they need a lot of nutrients to grow! Breast milk and formula contain all the nutrients they need until they're about six months old. These mainly comprise:

 

  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Vitamins (A,D,E, and K)
  • Carbohydrates

 

Tip: Don't give your baby whole cow's milk in their first year. Milk from other animals are short on some nutrients and overabundant on others, which can cause health problems.

 

Six Months – One Year

 

A baby's dietary requirements change rapidly from six months, so you should start to supplement their diet with solid foods. This will likely include the following:

 

  • Single grain cereals
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean animal and vegetable proteins
  • Carbohydrates, like cooked pasta
  • Fats, like egg yolks

 

Tip: Don't give your baby honey until s/he is older than a year as this can cause infant botulism, an extremely dangerous gastrointestinal condition.

 

One – Three Years

 

  • You can introduce full-fat cow's milk and just about anything else your family eats, providing you check with your doctor about possible allergies.
  • After two years old, your child should be able to consume reduced-fat dairy, and in fact, this is a good way to reduce their fat intake. As their nutritional needs change, they won't need as much fat as they did previously.

 

Tip: Do limit their saturated fat (fatty animal foods) and partially hydrogenated fats (processed foods). This can help to prevent a range of diseases such as diabetes and cancer later in life.

 

Three Years Onwards

 

As long as your family eats healthily, your child can go on eating what you're eating, with portion sizes increasing as their growth and energy levels increase. This will include lean meats, seafood, eggs, whole grain bread and cereals, legumes, dairy foods, and of course, fruit and veg.

 

Tip: Do allow them healthy snacks throughout the day to keep energy levels balanced.

 

How Much is Enough?

 

Babies

 

For new parents, it can be hard to tell if their baby is consuming too much or too little. If you're unsure, you can check out things like how many nappies they go through per day and monitor their growth charts.

 

Tip: Do check with your doctor if you're unsure if your baby is getting enough or too much breastmilk or formula.

 

Toddlers and Older Children

 

When you're overly concerned about whether or not your child is eating enough, it can interfere with their innate ability to tell when they've had enough to eat, which leads to eating more than they're comfortable with.

 

Tip: To help avoid overeating, let children over three years of age serve themselves, rather than dishing up for them.

 

Remember, every child is different, and while there are basic guidelines for good nutritional intake, if you are ever unsure about their health and dietary requirements, it's best to consult a professional, such as your GP.

 

One of the many things you can start with is an allergy test for your child. This test will allow you to better understand what their specific dietary requirements may be. Once this is done, it can be easier to start formulating a basic diet plan in accordance with what is consulted by a GP or dietary professional.

 

Sources: WebMD; Reuters

 

Prices quoted are correct at the time of publishing this article. The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.


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