NUTRITION & CHILDREN
- Daily diet: A variety of foods provide nutrients that young children need to build strong bodies and stay healthy. Abalanced diet should include food from all food categories. Remember, milk is not as nutrient dense as breast milk or formula so, the one-year old child should be getting much their nutrition from meats, fruits, vegetables, cereals, and dairy products. No single food group is more important than the other. It is not necessary to force any particular kind of food for children. Their food preferences assume a balanced nature over a period of time. Give roughly half the amount of that the mother consumes.
- Self selection of diet: A full family diet is advisable but, you must respect the strong likes and dislikes of your child. Permit your child a wide variety of foods provided he/she eats adequately over a period of few days. At this age, the eating habits are strongly influenced by older children in the family, particularly so in respect of likes and dislikes.
- Encourage snacks: Keep in mind, however, that toddlers are becoming more and more active as they learn to crawl, walk and run. Toddlers and small children will usually eat only small amounts at one time, but will eat frequently (four to six times) throughout the day so in between snacking is strongly encouraged. Most infants naturally adapt themselves to a schedule of three proper meals a day with in between snacks by the end of first year. Regular morning and afternoon snacks should be considered the norm, especially for toddlers. As long as these snacks are nutritious (cheese, yogurt, fruit, boiled egg) they will not interfere with mealtime and will help the child to improve total calorie intake.
- Avoid force-feeding: Remember that towards the end of first year and in second year, because of the continuous decline in the rate of growth, there is a gradual reduction in the infant’s calorie intake per unit body weight. There may be periods of absolute lack of interest in certain foods or food in general. This is the time when an overly anxious mother attempts to force-feed her child. The child naturally rebels and the feeding problems start.
- Eating habits and feeding difficulties: Eating habits form in the first or second year of life and usually persist for several years. Feeding difficulties are common in the toddlers and pre-school children. The child frequently develops a negative reaction towards food. Following factors play a role:
o Excessive parental insistence to eat and anxiety when the child does not do so
o Undue meal time stress and confusion
o Disturbed parent – child relations
o Insufficient time for eating either for the parent or the child
o Food likes and dislikes of other family members
o Poorly prepared and unattractively served food
- Continue breast feeding: It is preferable to continue breast feeding into the second year of life. While milk is not as nutrient dense as breast milk or formula, the one-year old child should be given food items from the other food groups also.