A balanced diet is always the best way to ensure that your little one is eating healthy. It guarantees that they eat a variety of food groups and nutritious foods, and can, therefore, best fulfil nutritional requirements.
During early childhood, your child’s body needs food that supports their health, growth and development, which take place at a rapid rate. They need carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats as well as small but considerable quantities of micronutrients - vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients help with healthy growth and development of the organs and tissues as well as keep the body functioning properly.
After your child’s second birthday, growth slows down when compared to the fast growth in the first year. So, their appetite also drops based on these growth needs. However, while they may have a small appetite, they still have a high nutritional need because they are still growing at a fast pace. The real challenge is not filling their tummy but ensuring optimal nutrition. When you’re trying to give your child complete nutrition, always remember not just their energy but also their micronutrient needs.
Your child needs 3 balanced meals and 2 nutritious snacks a day. Due to their small stomach and appetite, they cannot eat much during meals and as a result, snacks help add some nutritional value to their daily diet. Snacks should always be healthy and nutritious. Use snack time as a way to get more fruits and vegetables into your children’s diet.
Pay Attention To Micronutrients
Micronutrients, although needed in smaller quantities, are essential nutrients that keep your little one healthy. Iron keeps blood healthy and is also involved in brain development. Your child’s diet should thus include iron-rich foods like fortified cereal, spinach, beetroot, potatoes, whole grains and chikoo. To aid iron absorption, you should also include foods with Vitamin C, like oranges, tomato, capsicum and other fruits and vegetables.
Bones also grow rapidly during this period. Calcium-rich foods like milk, beans and leafy greens help promote bone health. For the absorption of Calcium and other minerals by the bones, ensure that there is sufficient Vitamin D in your child’s diet. Some good sources of Vitamin D include sunlight, dairy products, eggs, fish and meat.
A Variety of Nutrient-dense Foods
Other than Iron and Vitamin D, children need a variety of nutrients in their diet. To ensure that your little one is getting all his nutrients, ensure that his meals are balanced and nutritious, as well as varied. A variety of nutritious foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein sources helps ensure that your child does not miss out on any vital nutrients.
Nutrient-dense foods should feature in every meal and snack that you feed your little one. The presence of more than one food group helps give your child a good blend of nutrients. Nestle CEREGROW, for example, in just one bowl, combines the nutritional content of milk, grains and fruits. It also gives your preschooler their much-needed dose of iron, calcium, and Vitamins A, C and D.
Make sure that your child is eating the foods that are good for him/her. A child’s stomach is only as big as your fist, so remember - a full tummy of food does not always guarantee that your child is nourished - focus on quality, not quantity!