Good Nutrition For Healthy Bones and Healthy BrainsSome parents and caregivers must contend with picky eaters, who adamantly refuse food on a moment’s whim, while other families wonder how to manage their children’s voracious appetites. Regardless of the type of eater families have, feeding their children nutritious food is consistently named as a top concern for parents. And with good reason.Good nutrition—especially during the first two years of life—is important to a developing child in several ways. The growing body requires a variety of vitamins, minerals and proteins for healthy development. And the young brain needs proper nutrition in order to develop normal cognitive, motor and socio-emotional skills. When parents make healthy food choices for their young children, they help establish good habits that can last well into adulthood.Unfortunately, the number of malnourished children in the United States has more than doubled in some cities. More than 17 million children live in households struggling to put food on the table, and many of those often skip one or more meals a day. Pediatricians report that children who don’t get proper nutrition in the early years are more vulnerable to illness and chronic health conditions, and often test lower in math and reading. Many also experience emotional problems like anxiety and depression.But proper nutrition and healthy eating are important well before infancy. A previous newsletter discussed how a lack of proper nutrition during pregnancy can result in a range of health issues for the baby and even later on in his life, including high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. And studies even suggest that a mother’s food choices in utero determine the kinds of food that children will find appealing after birth.The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that once children are born, they be fed either breast milk or formula exclusively for the first six months of life. Once infants are ready for solid food, parents and caregivers can begin offering a variety of vegetables, fruits, cereals and grains to their babies, while avoiding foods high in sugar and salt. During the toddler years, parents and caregivers can encourage children to eat well by offering a variety of healthy choices for mealtimes, as well as healthful snacks in between.
- Tips and meal plans for parents of toddlers, from the USDA.
- From the American Academy of Pediatrics, a review of proper nutrition for infants, toddlers and teens.
- Facts about child nutrition, from the National Education Association.
In The News:
- “Childhood Malnutrition Has Long-Lasting Effects,” CNN.com. September 26, 2011.
VideoSesame Street characters on eating healthy and the importance of good nutrition. >>