The Importance Of Early Childhood Nutrition

Getting children to eat healthy can be a challenge. No child would choose a piece of broccoli over chicken nuggets or pizza! Most if not all children are picky eaters and you shouldn’t feel distressed if your child doesn’t want to eat their peas and carrots. 

However, early childhood nutrition is important and it plays a big role in a child’s development. As a parent, it’s crucial to understand the implications of a healthy diet and how it impacts your child. 

Why is Nutrition Important? 

Nutrition is important for people at any age. It plays a critical role in healthy development and according to studies, should be implemented during the infancy stage (6 months-2 years old). Seems a little extreme? Well to reap the benefits, good nutrition ought to start early. 

Proper nutrition will help your child grow healthy and strong. It also supplies them with energy for day to day activities such as playing and learning. Besides that, it’ll establish good eating habits so your child will grow with the inherent knowledge of proper eating.  

Nutritious eating has a range of benefits and it all starts at the beginning, literally! 

What Nutrients Do Children Need? 

There are specific nutrient requirements for different age groups. A nutrient rich diet for kids should consists of:

    • Protein: Protein provides essential amino acids that help children build and repair muscles. Protein can also fight off infections and break down food into energy. Good sources of protein for children are beans, eggs and fish. 
    • Iron: Iron is a component of red blood cells and a lack of it may leave your child fatigued. Foods rich in iron are lean meat, dried fruits and dark leafy vegetables. 
    • Calcium: Calcium will help your child develop strong bones and teeth. It can be found in dairy based products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Children usually take a liking to these foods so it shouldn’t be hard to convince them.  
    • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant which will keep cells healthy and protected. It also helps ligaments and red blood cells grow and develop. Oranges, strawberries and broccolis are good sources of vitamin C for children. 
    • Carbohydrates: Children need carbs to stay alert and active. It’s a good source of energy that also regulates mood hormones. Good sources of carbs are wholegrains, potatoes and carrots. 

On top of all of that, make sure your child is drinking enough water (4 to 6 ounces a day). Water is vital for health and a lack of it will cause dehydration, headaches and irritability. This may also affect your child’s performance from a physical and academic standpoint. 

Inversely, there are certain foods which you should limit your child from having. This includes processed foods, sugary drinks, salt and saturated fat. These foods have low nutritional value and they don’t have a whole lot of benefits. Nonetheless, a cheat day now and then should be fine! 

How Nutrition Impacts The Body 

A developing body needs proper nutrients to stay healthy. Children who don’t eat right will be prone to malnourishment, obesity and chronic diseases. Obesity is already a growing problem in Singapore and unhealthy eating habits is the main culprit. 

On the other hand, the benefits of good nutrition are endless. A well fed child will have a stronger immune system compared to those who don’t. Healthy eating also promotes stronger muscle growth which will concurrently improve coordination and fine motor skills. 

Moreover, don’t forget to include physical activity in addition to your child’s healthy diet. These are two important elements that should be embedded in every child’s routine. 

How Nutrition Impacts The Mind 

The development of the brain is just as important as the body and a child’s brain is highly responsive to nutrition. The brain grows at a rapid rate from the time of birth until the age of 8, making it the best time to start packing on the nutrients.

The first 8 years is also a good time to build a foundation in learning, health and success. Proper nutrition will further boost this development, ensuring your child develops a healthy brain as they get older. This will keep your child sharp and focus in possibly every aspect of life. 

Key Takeaway 

Early childhood nutrition is important and parents play an important role in implementing this. Firstly, parents need to learn about the implications of healthy eating and how it impacts a child. Parents should also adopt the same practices to encourage their children to follow suit.

At the end of the day, nutrition is important at any age and early childhood is the best time to start.  

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