When it comes to raising children, one of the biggest challenges many parents face is getting their children to eat a variety of nutritious foods. Ask any parent and they’ll say that sometimes it’s just about getting food into bellies. However, your child’s nutritional health is an important part of growing up. Feeding your child the right foods helps them meet important milestones, build their immune system, and meet the challenges of their day with energy and focus.
Why is My Child’s Nutrition Important?
Feeding your child a wide variety of age-appropriate foods provides their bodies with vital nutrients. Good nutrition helps keep all of the different parts of our bodies healthy and running smoothly. From organs to bones, food is essential to ensuring the health of your growing family.
Builds a Healthy Immune System
Food and good nutrition contribute heavily to the function of our immune system. Our immune system is our body’s defense against sickness and disease. As is the case, our immune system relies heavily on the vitamins and minerals we’re providing it. The most common foods associated with healthy, strong immune function are a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
Childhood obesity is a serious problem, especially in the United States. It’s estimated that over 14 million children struggle with obesity every year. With only a few exceptions, good nutrition is directly linked to the control of childhood obesity.
Alternatively, poor nutrition and misinformation can lead to a variety of other eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and others that usually begin in adolescence. Teaching your children the value of nutrition helps to prevent these kinds of issues.
Gives Them Energy
A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, fats, and proteins is key to giving your little one the energy they need to meet the day head-on. A healthy diet is paramount when it comes to helping our children maintain their stamina. Just like adults, when we get into the habit of eating unhealthy foods, we begin to feel tired and sluggish in the middle of the day. That alone can affect so much.
Being cranky and tired go hand in hand. The vitamins and minerals that the right food provides helps to keep our spirits up and reduces the risk of common childhood issues like anxiety and depression. Good nutrition, coupled with normal exercise improves mood and even helps your children sleep better.
As we mentioned, children can hit slumps in the middle of the day just like adults can. Packing a healthy lunch that includes a balance of carbs, protein, and nutrient-dense foods like apples or carrots helps keep their thoughts out of the fog and even helps them perform better in school.
Stages of Childhood Nutrition
As your baby grows, they’ll require different levels of nutrition.
Babys do a lot of eating and sleeping during the first few months of life. Nursing or bottle-feeding with formula is how they’ll get the nutrients they need to stay happy, alert, and calm. Babies know how much to eat and when they want to eat, so overfeeding is less of a worry at this stage.
By around 5 or 6 months, babies begin eating solid foods, while still consuming breast milk or formula. This period is about teaching your child about food and mealtime. Look at the nutritional value of various soft baby foods, and make the best decisions for your baby based on their preferences. Make sure to give them a lot of options to help you discover their favorites!
Your baby should begin to self-feed via finger-feeding around this time. When they begin to be interested in feeding themselves, your child may ask for snacks and meals on-demand. Some of these can be determined by letting them make their own choices. Other times, it might be best to offer them snacks based on your own schedule and their nutritional needs.
At this point, your baby’s motor skills should begin to develop enough that they can start to use utensils to feed themselves. They will likely still use their fingers a good bit, but this time is prime for introducing your child to a variety of foods. Remember, our kids pick up our facial expressions and body language. If you act like something is “nasty” or “yucky” they’re more likely to be resistant to trying it. Vegetables, fruits, and all kinds of proteins are part of a healthy, balanced diet.
We’ll Feed You Great Nutritional Advice
Raleigh Group has been helping children all over Memphis and the surrounding areas grow up big and strong! We’re here to be your childhood nutrition resource. If you have questions, concerns, or just want more information about how to feed your child a well-balanced diet, contact us to learn more.