Proper nutrition plays an important role in your child’s development. People often forget that proper nutrition is more than just what’s on your plate at mealtime. It also includes what you drink and how much physical activity you engage in. The proper food guidelines have changed in recent years and many people are confused about what makes a balanced diet. Nutrition.gov has a very helpful PDF with the newest guidelines on proper plate portions. MyPlate at Home PDF
(Imagine from MyPlate Kids’ Place)
Eating habits, good or bad, are established in the first 5 years of life. As parents, we want to make sure we are establishing healthy eating habits in our children. They need proper nutrition as they go through the various stages of development to optimize their growth.
For the first year of life a baby will live on milk; breastmilk or formula. Very little water is needed.
Preschoolers and toddlers grow in spurts so their appetite happens in spurts too. Encourage your toddler to eat foods higher in fiber to fuel their growing bodies. Calcium is also very important during this developmental stage. It helps build strong bones and healthy eyes.
Grade-school-aged children will have a relatively normal appetite until puberty strikes. Protein is important during this stage for their busy bodies.
Pre-teens and teenagers will have a bigger appetite while they are going through puberty and growing in spurts over the next few years. This stage of development requires extra calories but often teens pick junk food over healthy food. Keep healthy snacking options in the house to encourage healthy eating habits.