For some, getting your child to eat healthy can be a constant battle.
Remember it’s a battle worth fighting….A healthy child becomes a healthy adult.
Your child’s nutritional needs differ based on age, stage of the life cycle and sex. Whether you have a toddler or a teen, nutrition is important to his or her physical and mental development.
For babies 0-6 months, it’s all about milk, as breast milk will provide practically every nutrient a baby needs for the first 6 months of life. At about 6 months most babies are ready to start solid foods.
Great options are iron fortified cereal, strained fruits, vegetables and pureed meats and foods. Do not add sugar or salt to babies’ food.
As baby grows into a toddler or pre-schooler, they grow in spurts and their appetites come and go in spurts. It’s normal for children at that stage to eat a whole lot one day and then hardly anything the next day. Just be sure to offer them a healthy selection so that they get the needed nutrients.
Points to remember, milk is the best source of much needed calcium.
For those who are lactose intolerant or just don’t like milk, lactose-free milk, soy milk, sardines and calcium-fortified orange juices are some calcium-filled options. Fiber is another important focus for toddlers; so this is a good time to encourage fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, which all provide fiber.
Parents who are growing their children as vegetarians, be sure to provide other sources of protein like eggs, beans, milk and peanut butter. As puberty sets in, young people will need more calories to support the many changes their bodies will experience. Extra calories should not come from junk food or foods with little or no nutrition value.
Adolescence is the time when children start to become conscious of their weight and body image. This may lead to eating disorders or other unhealthy habits.
Water makes up more than half of your child’s body weight and is needed to keep all parts of the body functioning properly. Give them water throughout the day, not only when they are thirsty.
If your child doesn’t like the taste of water, add a bit of lemon or lime for flavour, or have them eat more fruits and veggies as these are good sources of water.
Active play is the best exercise for children! Parents should try having fun with their little ones. Playing on swings, riding bicycles, jumping rope, swimming, or dancing can be great options. Try getting at least one hour of exercise per day.
(Submitted by the Grenada Food & Nutrition Council)