The link between nutrition and children’s growth is comparable to a farmer. Who carefully waters, provide the right nutrients (fertilizers) to his crop. And continuously evaluates for any deficiency or disease to ensure best and proper growth.
Likewise, parents need to keep a very keen eye on nutrients their children are taking. They should identify any possible nutrient deficiency which might hamper the growth of children.
Several factors are necessary for the optimal physical growth and cognitive development of children. Yet healthy eating plays a pivotal and most significant role. As nutrition serves as the main source of energy or fuel for kids.
Proper nutrition is a life-long process. Which is important at every stage of life. Yet the nutritional impact in the first few years of the life of a child is most crucial. Right nutrition in the early years of a child’s life. When his physical and cognitive development is taking place. Sets the basis for the quality of his life in years to come.
We can say that it’s the ultimate goal of parenting and prime responsibility. To ensure that the children are getting the best nutrition necessary for their healthy future.
Importance Of Nutrition In Children’s Growth
The studies show that perfect nutrition in a child’s early years is directly proportional to their better academic and health performance in later years. A strong nutritional foundation shows proven benefits in the quality of life of a child. Which becomes evident as he progresses in life.
According to nutritionist pediatrics several diseases and morbid conditions in later stages of life are associated with nutritional deficiencies. In the early stages of a child. Such as rickets, iron deficiency anaemia, osteoporosis, decreased muscle mass, and obesity to name just a few.
Not only this, healthy nutrition in young ages provides a solid foundation of healthy eating habits for children throughout their life as well.
Right nutrition apart from physiological conditions help in spiritual and cognitive development as well. Children who eat healthy food tend to perform much better in school and other areas of life.
Nutrition and Children’s Growth- Some Common Deficiencies
Nutrition and children’s growth is a holistic process, and every single nutrient is vital for the optimal growth and development of children. We cannot cross out the significance of any single nutrient.
However, for the sake of reference only below we have presented some of the most common and major nutritional deficiencies found in children. Which parents can easily detect and work on improving.
Iron Deficiency. Several factors contribute to the deficiency of iron in children. Such as poor diets of mothers, premature birth, birth defects, and hereditary conditions. Iron deficiency negatively impacts the nerve functions of the brain. This also gives rise to behavioral and other psychometric issues in children.
Vitamin D Deficiency. This vitamin is essential for the body to absorb calcium in the gastrointestinal tracts. We cannot easily detect the deficiency of this vital vitamin. Until the conditions become evident like the occurrence of certain medical conditions such as rickets, or changes in growth plates.
Calcium Deficiency. Adequate calcium intake in the early years promotes optimal bone density which contributes to strong growth and reduces the risk of bone loss in later life.
Vitamin K Deficiency is one of the most common issues prevalent in children. Babies are normally born with lower levels of vitamin K which sometimes occur due to certain medications taken by the mother during pregnancy.
Solution To Child’s Nutritional And Growth Problems
Okay, now when you have gone through the various deficiencies and their causes. Let’s explore some ways to comprehend these. Below we have presented some common and DIY tips to ensure that children are getting the right nutrition for their healthy growth and development.
This is not a medical prescription however we have taken utmost care to provide parents with a quick guide to help nurture their little children in the best way possible.
Parents are advised to employ these solutions confidently to solve the basic nutritional problems of their children.
Homemade Meals In Place Of Processed Foods
You love your kids and want to spend more and more on the right nutrition, you are always on the lookout for the best packaged or processed children foods out there to give to your kids but remember, no shelf product can replace the efficacy of the homemade meals.
This however doesn’t mean that packaged products are no good, or do not offer any benefits, their benefits come with some additional drawbacks which we have listed below:
- Off the shelf products often contain preservative flavours and other artificial ingredients which may cause allergic reactions in children.
- Processed foods often contain a high amount of sugar which only serves to add more and more sugar to the bodies of your children, a prime cause of child obesity.
- Lastly, the indulgence of processed and packaged meals further diverts a child away from natural and home-made food. As the taste buds of a child will get accustomed to artificial and processed meals he will find more and more difficulty in accepting nutritious natural food.
Push your children more and more towards homemade foods and snacks in place of processed and packaged options. Ensure that your homemade meal comprises of all essential nutrients and yet it should be likable for children as well.
If it is something not liked by children, they will stop eating it, and consistency is most important for long term nutritional benefit.
Instilling The Habit Of A Nutritious Breakfast
Healthy nutrition should follow healthy eating habits. In the absence of the right eating habits and schedule. Children will always tend to binge on unhealthy snacks and deprive their body of proper as well as timely provision of nutrients.
Toddlers eating habits developed in the first few years remain with them for the rest of their lives. The importance of breakfast is well documented and requires no further emphasis. Yet we see that often children do not follow a specific breakfast routine.
This irregularity in their early years only grows out to be more severe in later years. Therefore parents in the first few years should instill a habit of healthy breakfast in their children. Which is necessary for their development, better academic, and overall performance in years to come. Also read A Guide On Child Disciplining
Opting For Healthier Foods
Remember the brain of kids is not as mature as yours, they will always attract towards apparently scrumptious or delightful sights of foods, it’s the responsibility of parents to give healthier alternatives to their children.
Parents need to subtly replace the common calorie-laden children foods with healthier alternatives thus curbing obesity and other nutrition-related diseases right from the beginning. Some examples may be:
- Use of whole wheat or bran bread instead of white bread
- A homemade smoothie or lemonade instead of cream shakes
- Baked chips, or nuts instead of deep-fried French fries, and so on
Make sure that the meals of your children are laden with all the necessary nutrients and are equipped with healthy fats necessary for brain development.
Reducing Sugar Intake
With the increased availability of processed foods and cereals, we have ever-growing options of sugar-laden foods. Parents today need to be careful now more than ever before in keeping a check on the sugar intake of their children.
Excessive sugar consumption results in all sorts of health issues with childhood obesity being the biggest of all. It’s worth noting here that while sugar intake should be controlled parents should encourage the use of natural sugar options.
Naturally occurring sugar contains essential nutrients and vitamins which play a significant role in a child’s development.
Make Foods Appealing For Children
Remember children will not understand the rationale behind the healthy and nutritious foods the way you do, therefore the meals for children must be prepared in a way that is liked by children and presented in a way that interesting for them.
A few easy ways for gaining the interest of your child in homemade foods are presented below:
- Choose colorful vegetables and fruits so that the platter for the child looks visually attractive to him.
- Present the meal to children in a way that is liked by children such as in stars shaped or in colorful plates and cartoon printed mugs, etc.
- Ask your children to help you prepare the meals. Children naturally will feel more inclined to have something which they have prepared themselves.
- During your visit to the superstore let your children accompany you in the section of vegetables and fruits and fill the bucket themselves. This will encourage in them a sense of ownership for their food and will help parents identify the preferences of children too.
- Make mealtimes more attractive and fun-filled for children. Instead of giving them food in front of the TV, make conscious efforts to sit down with your kids and talk to them on their favorite topics.
Final Words On Nutrition And Children’s Growth
With this, we have reached the end of this article. We hope that the article will help parents understand the important linkage between nutrition and children’s growth. All do-it-yourself tips are easy and self-employable and will prove to be results oriented.
The guide will also help parents to solve the food and nutrition-related issues in children which will ultimately promote better physical and mental health.