To enable children to develop to their maximum potential, it is essential that they are provided with a diet which meets all their nutritional needs. The first few years of childhood are very fragile and the diet and nutrition during these years forms the basis of growth of children in the future. The diet and nutrition in each year varies as the development begins.
A child grows very quickly in the first year of birth. In the initial 12 months, babies triple their weight and an increase in length of 50% is noticed. The diet and nutrition in the first year consists of human milk as a child relies on breast feeding. Optimum nutrition is provided for growth and development by human milk and no other solid food is given before the age of 6 months.
After 6 months, along with milk the baby are fed some solid food items. This is because the milk is no longer suffices in providing adequate nutrition. The first food item is generally cereal which later moves onto fruit and vegetables. However, nowadays baby formulas have been developed to provide adequate diet and nutrition to the baby along with human milk.
After the first year, the speed of growth slows down and the diet and nutrition plan of children expands to include food items like eggs, meat and fish. Toddlers who age 2 or 3 become very fussy and feeding them becomes very challenging for parents. They will develop eating habits depending on what the adults and their peers take.
For effective diet and nutrition after the first year, the toddler food pyramid can be followed. It basically consists of items like fruits, vegetables, juices, milk and meat. The size of the meal depends on the growth rate of the child. Usually the meal is 1/4th of an adult’s meal. This helping is enough to keep the child satisfied and healthy.
It is vital to remember that the toddler’s diet and nutrition chart should balance all the food groups like proteins, carbohydrates, fat etc. On an average a child requires 1300 calories per day although this may vary according to the height of every child. Parents can keep a calorie count to ensure that their child receives the right level of energy.
Milk can be stopped once the child is 2 years old and solid food items become regular meals for children. For proper growth and nourishment, the diet and nutrition plan should be carefully monitored.