Nourishing growing bodies: understanding the importance of childhood nutrition
Good nutrition is crucial for children's overall health and well-being and can help set the foundations of future health.
During their formative years, children require a well-balanced diet to support their growth, development, and cognitive function. Adequate intake of essential nutrients is essential for children's optimal physical and mental growth.
Nutrients play a vital role in children's growth and development. Essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, are required in specific amounts to support various physiological processes in the body.
Carbohydrates provide energy for physical activity and brain function, while proteins are the building blocks for growth and repair of tissues. Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, are important for brain development and cognitive function. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system, bone development, and other physiological processes.
Healthy eating habits in childhood can also prevent the development of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, in later life. Unhealthy diets high in refined sugars, saturated fats, and sodium can lead to excessive weight gain, high blood sugar levels, and elevated blood pressure in children, increasing the risk of developing these chronic diseases in adulthood. Therefore, establishing healthy eating patterns early in life is crucial for long-term health.
Tips for those with picky eaters
Many parents face the challenge of dealing with picky eaters, who may be resistant to trying new foods or have a limited range of foods they are willing to eat. Picky eating can result in nutrient deficiencies and inadequate intake of essential nutrients, which can impact a child's growth and development. Here are some strategies to encourage healthy eating in picky eaters:
Be a role model: Children are more likely to adopt healthy eating habits if they see their parents and caregivers following a healthy diet. Set a positive example by eating a variety of nutritious foods and avoiding unhealthy options.
Offer a variety of foods: Introduce a wide range of foods to children from an early age, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Encourage them to try new foods and be patient if they initially refuse.
Make meals fun: Get creative with meal presentations to make them appealing to children. Use colourful fruits and vegetables, create fun shapes with food, and involve children in meal planning and preparation to make it enjoyable.
Limit processed foods and sugary beverages: Avoid serving foods that are high in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats. Opt for whole, minimally processed foods and encourage water or milk as the primary beverage.
Be mindful of portion sizes: Serve age-appropriate portion sizes to prevent overeating and promote healthy eating habits.
Avoid food as a reward or punishment: Do not use food as a reward or punishment for behaviour. This can create an unhealthy relationship with food and may lead to emotional eating.
Be patient and persistent: It may take several attempts for children to accept new foods, so be patient and continue offering a variety
How else can you support your growing children
Whilst diet is important in setting your child up for future health, there are a number of other ways that you can support and nourish your growing child:
Physical activity: Regular physical activity is crucial for children's overall health and development. Encourage your child to engage in age-appropriate physical activities, such as playing sports, riding bikes, dancing, or simply playing outside. Physical activity promotes healthy bone development, muscle strength, coordination, and cardiovascular health.
Adequate sleep: Sleep is essential for a child's growth and development. Establish a consistent sleep routine and ensure your child gets the recommended amount of sleep for their age. Proper sleep supports brain development, cognitive function, and emotional well-being.
Supplements: In an ideal world, we'd get all of the nutrients that our bodies need solely through our diet. The Western diet, which is characterised by a high intake of processed foods, added sugars, and unhealthy fats, may not always provide all the essential nutrients that growing children need for optimal health and development. Supplements can be beneficial for children, as they can help bridge the gap between their nutrient requirements and what they may be getting from their diet alone. We recommend Baba West Infant Health & Wellbeing Pack for infants up to 12 months, and Baba West Junior Health & Wellbeing Pack for children between 1-12 years.
Hydration: Staying hydrated is important for children's health. Encourage your child to drink water regularly throughout the day. Water is essential for digestion, metabolism, and overall health.
Mental health: Supporting a child's mental health is crucial for their overall well-being. Provide a supportive and nurturing environment, encourage open communication, and address any emotional concerns. Engage your child in activities that promote emotional well-being, such as spending time with loved ones, engaging in hobbies, and practicing relaxation techniques.
Creating a healthy relationship with nutritious foods with children can help set the foundations of future health. By following our tips, you can help support your children's overall health and well-being through their diet and lifestyle.