Child Nutrition

Child Nutrition Fueling Growth Children come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Their genetic blueprints determine how fast and how big they will grow. Some children are destined to grow slowly while others make rapid leaps in development. Genetic, environmental, hormonal, nutritional and behavioral factors work together to determine a child’s rate of growth. As the caregiver, your job is to provide the right materials for growth – a wide variety of nutritious foods.

Nutrition During Pregnancy Proper nutrition during pregnancy plays a vital role in determining the health of the newborn child. Through the quantity and quality of what a pregnant woman eats, she provides the nourishment necessary to begin and maintain the growth and development of her fetus. Guidelines for Daily Food Choices For most women, a balanced diet during pregnancy will consist of three meals a day. Meals should contain nutrient-rich foods from each of the following food groups: proteins, fruits, vegetables, grain products, and milk and milk products. Protein-rich foods have the added advantage of containing iron and B vitamins.

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Two or three servings of protein foods a day will meet the requirement. Good choices are lean meats, fish, eggs, beans and tofu. Poorer choices, because they contain a high percentage of fat, are hot dogs, sausage, spare ribs, and especially bacon. Three to five daily servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruits are necessary to supply vitamins, particularly A and C. Recommended fruits include citrus (oranges, grapefruits) as well as apples, bananas, guavas, mangos and dried fruit. Vegetables may be dark green — such as broccoli, spinach or kale — or a variety of others including carrots, cabbage, squash or baked white or sweet potato.

Pure fruit juice should be chosen over fruit drinks, which contain added sugar and provide little nutritional value. While fresh fruits and vegetables are best, frozen or canned may be substituted. Among the grain products, whole-grain and whole-wheat are best. Six to 11 daily servings are recommended. Any of the following counts as a serving: 1 slice of whole-grain bread, 3/4 cup ready- to-eat enriched cereal, 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup enriched or brown rice, 2 tortillas, or 1/2 cup spaghetti or other noodles. Four servings a day of milk and milk products are suggested.

These may include: 1 cup of milk, yogurt or cottage cheese, two 1-inch cubes of cheese, 1 cup pudding or custard, 1-1/2 cups soup made with milk, or 1 cup ice milk or ice cream. For women who can’t digest the sugar in milk or are lactose- intolerant, modified milk products are available in the dairy section of the supermarket. These include yogurt — milk in cultured form — and low-lactose substitutes. A woman who feels she is not getting enough milk products should talk with her health care provider about other sources of calcium. Adjustments in diet may be necessary to deal with some of the common discomforts of pregnancy.

If nausea is a problem (usually during the first trimester), smaller more frequent meals may help, along with crackers as snacks and liquids between — rather than with — meals. Heartburn also can be eased by frequent small meals and avoiding greasy or heavily spiced foods and caffeine. For constipation, which may occur at any time during pregnancy but is more common during the latter part, helpful remedies include increased fluid intake, high-fiber foods such as whole grains, and naturally laxative foods such as dried fruits (especially prunes and figs), and other fruits and juices, particularly prune juice. Baby Nutrition Breastfeeding For the baby, mother’s milk provides the best food to grow on. Breasted babies do not get sick as often and have fewer allergies. Mother’s milk is very easy for babies to digest. For you, breastfeeding helps you get your shape back sooner.

It gives you a free hand during feedings and lets you feed a hungry baby fast. Breastfeeding lets you rest when you nurse lying down. For both of you, breastfeeding offers a special time to get to know each other. You can breastfeed like all mothers, you want to give your baby the very best in life. Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby. Your milk has everything your baby needs to grow strong and healthy.

Introducing Solids The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents should not introduce solids before 6 months of age. Babies’ developing digestive tracts can’t process solid foods yet; introducing cereal or other starter foods too early can cause digestive problems such as gas and loose stools or constipation. It’s best to stick with breast milk or formula for now. As your baby approaches 6 months, keep an eye out for the clues that will tell you she’s ready to expand her mealtime horizons. At 3 to 4 months, she’ll start to lose the extrusion reflex that makes her instinctively push her tongue out of her mouth when it encounters anything besides liquid.

Time for finger foods By 7 months, your baby has started developing the skills necessary to increase her food repertoire. He or she will probably start to try picking up objects with her thumb and forefinger, a skill called the pincer grasp. He or she will also continue to mouth everything it can get her hands on, another sign that he or she ready for an expanded diet. Foods to introduce during this period are avocados, peaches, cooked carrots, squash, mashed potatoes, and barley cereal. 9 to 12 months Now is the time to start introducing lumpier, more challenging foods such as oatmeal, noodles, and peas.

You can also start feeding her bite-size cooked vegetables such as yams, and combination foods like macaroni and cheese. The baby is also ready to try ground-up or bite-size pieces of bland meat such as poultry, though she won’t have the molars to chew it until he or she 18 to 24 months old. Try milling or grinding the meat in a baby food grinder, or cut it into very fine pieces, about 1/8 inch thick. The baby will also like chewing on hard foods, since it’s teething, but make sure it’s something that dissolves easily, like teething biscuits. Infant Nutrition Children must consume sufficient high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals and energy in their diets if adequate growth is to occur.

Many factors determine a child’s needs for nutrients: body size physical activity illness or injury Although a child experiences growth spurts during the preschool years, the most significant periods of growth occur in infancy and adolescence. Even though growth rate slows during the preschool years, the body continues to change dramatically, and preschool children actually need more of certain nutrients than larger children do. Therefore, every meal and snack is an opportunity to meet the special nutritional needs of the preschool child. Energy Energy in food allows children to play, to learn, and to grow. This food energy is measured in calories. Calories come from carbohydrate, protein and fat.

It is important for a child to eat en …


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