A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Nutrition Milestones
There’s lots of truth in the phrase “you are what you eat”, and that is why one of the most fundamental areas parents tend to focus on when raising a child is food and nutrition.
Working out your child’s weekly meal plan feels like it involves rocket science, doesn’t it? There are various factors you’ll need to consider, such as ensuring that there’s sufficient nutrients in a meal, the texture is right, there’s a good combination... and it gets more challenging when there are dietary restrictions and so on.
All because you want the best for your child. Because every bite counts!
However, what is healthy? Which food options are best? Is your child getting enough nutrients, for sure?
Here's some important information to take note of when it comes to feeding your child right.
Meal suggestions for different ages
1 year old
As your child continues to discover the different types of food, be sure to offer your child a variety of flavours and food textures.
Your child might also want to give a try at holding the spoon and feeding himself/herself. If so, do allow to give your child a try at it. Although it’s bound to create a mess, this helps your child to continue learning different textures through touch as well as improve their hand-eye coordination.
Some food suggestions include broccoli and cauliflower that’s cooked until soft; pasteurised cheese; cottage cheese; tofu; soft fruits such as papaya, grapefruit, berries and melon; boneless fish, and minced meat.
Feeding milestones: Use a spoon during feeding time (even though they may not have mastered it yet!).
2 to 3 years old
At this age, feeding your child will be an adventure. There will be days where they would enjoy her food and finish it within half an hour, and there are days where they would just refuse. Suddenly, feeding time could double (or triple) in time.
One important tip when it comes to feeding time is to stick to a schedule, with regular meals and snacks in between. Plus, the upside about having a schedule is not only that it helps with your child’s feeding time; it’s also perfect when it comes to planning your day too.
Some food suggestions during this stage includes oatmeal porridge, grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, sliced fruits such as apples, bananas and oranges, and combination foods such as tomato pasta or mac and cheese.
Feeding milestones: For the child to be able to make decisions about their preferred food choices and to feed themselves.
4 to 6 years old
As your child enters school, her dietary requirements will differ due to the change in environment. They will start to get more involved in activities in school and, at the same time, be exposed to a public environment for longer hours whereby the risk of communicable diseases such as the flu or a viral infection is higher.
Hence, it’s important to ensure that your child maintains a healthy immune system. One way to build it is through the food that your child consumes.
Your child’s calorie intake should be about 1,400 to 1,600 calories each day. Some food suggestions include whole wheat bread, cheese sandwiches, fish, brown rice, steamed vegetables, and a variety of fruits.
By now, your child would be able to join in ‘family style’ meals whereby she is able to enjoy the same dishes as you and the rest of the family!
The key to a healthy meal is to pack them with natural and fresh ingredients. Avoid high sugar and sodium snacks such as processed food as they’re not only less nutritious, but also can increase your child’s risk of health conditions such as obesity.
Feedings Facts vs Myths
Are you able to tell if the below are facts or myths?
MYTH: Only sugar causes hyperactivity in childrenFact: Sugar, an ingredient that is said to be the root of all evil in any parent’s day, is not the only ingredient that you’ll want to take note of if you would like to keep your child calm. A 2007 study in the United Kingdom found that the consumption of food dyes could increase hyperactivity behaviour among children.
MYTH: Jarred foods are the best way to introduce solids to your childFact: Baby food packed in jars are convenient, but just because they’re a popular choice among some parents, doesn't make this food option any healthier. Instead, opt to prepare homemade food for your little one and slowly introduce him or her to the various types of food textures and flavours. The best part about preparing your own is that you can totally decide what goes into your baby’s food.
MYTH: Children prefer the same foodFact: Your child might go through a phase whereby he or she would not eat anything but a particular type of food such as noodles. Though, this does not necessarily mean that your child prefers just one type of food. Although your child might demand for a specific type of food, try to not stick to just one option. Give his or her meals a variety such as noodles with soup, pasta, and so on.