Importance of Nutrition in Child’s Development

April 25, 2019

Children especially small children are fussy when it comes to their eating habits. They are picky eaters in general and therefore it is a difficult ordeal for parents to be able to make their children take a balanced diet. A balanced diet is extremely important for the healthy growth and development of children. Childhood is the foundation on which the entire life of a human being is built. Improper eating habits and lack of nutrition during the early years of life can lead to extremely complicated health issues as time progresses. And even of the situation does not get so worse, still the lack of proper diet comprising of all the essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins, iron, iodine etc can lead to delayed mental and physical development.,

On the contrary, if a child is able to get proper nourishment during the early years of childhood then the likeliness of the individuals growing into a healthy adult and leading a healthy life increases. It also acts as the enabler for children to perform well in all spheres of life where physical and cognitive skills may be required. As per leading child nutrition experts, it is imperative that proper nutrition is given to children especially during their early years, as any kind of damage caused by lack of nutritious diet becomes extremely hard to undo post two years of age.

Effects of Nutrition on Child Development
The affect that nutrition has on the development of a child is manifold:

1. Intellectual Development: Children that have access to a well balanced nutritious diet are exposed to nutrients that are essential for the growth of brain cells. There are different nutrients required at different times of the development of the brain and as such a well balanced diet provides the necessary fuel to keep the development going. A healthy brain os able to grasp new things easily and therefore young kids who receive a healthy diet are able to perform better at tasks requiring cognitive skills.

2. Behavioral and Emotional Development: various studies have showcased that the lack of proper nutrition in small kids results in adverse behavioral and emotional patterns. Children who are subjected to unhealthy eating habits resulting in an unhealthy diet are more likely to develop unhealthy and negative behavioral patterns such as mood swings causing the child to be tired and depressed even and may even be cranky. This is due to the lack of complex carbohydrates and iron. Another adverse effect of malnutrition is development of disorders such as ADHD. Various experts suggest that a balanced and healthy diet could be beneficial in reducing the symptoms of ADHD. Consequently, a variety of diet based programs to counter ADHD symptoms are being used widely.

3. Physical Development: This is the most obvious and self evident aspect of nutrition and its effects on children. A healthy mind can reside only in a healthy body, and in order to obtain and maintain a healthy body a well balanced diet comprising of essential nutrients is imperative. Nutritious diet is necessary in order to have a strong bones and muscles. It also helps in developing the immune system of the body that protects it from diseases.

Nutritional Requirements at Various Stages of a Child’s Life

1. Infants: At this stage of child’s life breast milk is like an Elixir. It has all the essential nutrients that are required for the strengthening and growth of the baby. Breast Milk can also be supplemented with Formula which aids in filling in for the nutritional gaps in breast milk. A combination of breast milk and formula is more the sufficient for the bay till the baby is about six months old.

Once the child has reached the age of six months, solid foods need to be introduced into the diet of the child. These solid foods include infant cereals which are rich in Iron, pureed meat as well as strained vegetables and fruits.

2. Toddlers, Preschoolers and Grade-schoolers: At this age the child starts walking and is involved with a lot of running around and a plethora of physical activities such as playing around. This requires a lot of physical efforts and to sustain this amount of physical strain, a healthy diet is necessary. As the body starts to grow and the bones began to bear the weight of the body, introducing Calcium into the diet is very important. Calcium is concrete of the bones. It is vital for the development and growth of strong bones and teeth. In sufficient intake of Calcium can result in fragile and brittle bones which may cause discomfort for a lifetime. In order to incorporate sufficient Calcium in the child’s diet milk is the most common and efficient source. It is naturally rich in Calcium and is easily available. There are also options and alternatives to milk for people who have an intolerance to milk such as cereals, oatmeal, waffles, orange juice, tofu, soy milk and sardines.

Another important nutrient for toddlers is Fiber. Fiber is very good for digestion by marinating optimum bowl health and helps in preventing constipation. Also, Fiber is very effective in averting obesity and preventing heart diseases. Kids can obtain high fiber in their diet by consuming high quantities of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, whole wheat, rye, barley etc.

3. Teenagers:

At this stage of a child’s life, heavy physical as well as mental activities become a part of life. From getting into sports to taking part in academic and related extracurricular activities, all of these aspects of life require a healthy lifestyle to sustain. For the physical side of life, protein an calcium rich diet is recommended because in order for the body to withstand the physical strain, protein and calcium is required which aids in developing and strengthening the muscles and bones respectively. Another nutrient that is required is calories which are the fuel for the body. As per studies, the healthy amount of calories per day for male and female teenagers is 2,000-2,400 and 1,800 calories respectively.

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