Good nutrition and a healthy balanced diet are important for young children, introducing a healthy eating plan at a young age will benefit a child later in life. For the first 6 months of a child’s life their nutritional needs are meet with either breast milk or formula milk. Breast milk is mostly recommended as it contains more nutrients and immune boosting substances. There are many health benefits of breastfeeding. Reports suggest that breastfeed babies are less likely to have illnesses and infections, as well as have better mental development, better mouth formation and stronger teeth. (breastfeeding.ie, Feb`13).Formula milk is also nutritional and has its own benefits as it’s made as close to possible to breast milk. If using formula milk hygiene is very important as feeding equipment is perfect places for bacteria to breed and cause sickness i.e.; stomach upset and diarrhoea. (nshhealth.com, Feb`13). From 6 months onwards infant rice/cereals can be introduced, it’s not recommended before this as baby’s stomachs may not be able to digest food properly. Milk should still be their main source of nutrition with new foods, tastes and textures introduced slowly. Ideally first foods should be pureed to a runny consistency, progressing to lumpy textures and then chunks and finger food. A healthy diet is one that encourages children to eat many different types of food. The Food Pyramid is a good way to ensure children are getting the essential vitamins and minerals that are needed for good growth and development.
The Food Pyramid.
Encouraging children to eat a verity of foods from the main food groups is a good step to a healthy diet. * Bread, cereals and potatoes group – these foods are carbohydrates which provide children with energy to grow and play * Fruits and vegetables – these foods give vitamins and minerals * Milk, cheese and yogurts – these foods contain calcium for healthy bones and teeth * Meat, fish and alternatives – these foods contain protein and iron for growth and good body function * Fats, oils and sugars – these foods should be eaten a small amounts as they contain fat too much of this is bad for the health.
Children under 2 should be given full fat foods as they have high energy needs, but high fat high sugary foods sparingly.
The Impact of Nutrition and Exercise on Children
Nutrition and exercise are important for children as a well balanced diet which helps them grow and develop, and exercise helps strengthen their body, which in turn affects them in adulthood. With good nutrition children are getting the vitamins and minerals they need to help fight off colds and other infections, so benefits them health wise. Providing children with a nutritional diet at an early age can only help benefit them in adult hood.
Exercise is equally important for children. Simple activates such as running, jumping and climbing are fun and easy for young children. Physical activity along with a healthy diet will ensure that children keep a healthy weight. Exercise also strengthens bones, muscles and joints which will also benefit children in adult life. When children are active they are using more energy which can affect their appetite and aid sleeping as their using more energy and may feel hungrier and more tired.
Sample Menu for Child Under 1
Breakfast – Cereal/porridge, Bread/Toast
Lunch – Sweet potatoes, chicken and spinach
Dinner – Fish, carrots and broccoli
Snacks – Fruit, yogurt, rice cakes
Drinks – Water, Milk
Sample Menu for Child 3 – 4 years
Breakfast – Cereal, Toast
Lunch – Spaghetti Bolognese
Dinner – Chicken and Rice
Snacks – Fruit, Yogurt, Vegetable pieces
Drinks – Water, Milk, Diluted fruit juice
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