Nutrition plays an important role in a healthy childhood and can set the foundation for wellness in adulthood. A balanced and nutritious diet helps facilitate growth among children during a time in their lives when they are developing at a rapid rate. Education is an essential part of teaching parents and children about the importance of nutrition. Your child’s pediatrician can be your greatest resource in ensuring that your child lives healthfully from birth and into the adolescent years.
Did you know…
that obesity has become an epidemic among American children? Currently, more than 1 in 3 children are overweight due to poor diets and lack of physical exercise. More and more children and teens are developing the risk factors of cardiovascular disease as a result of being overweight. Other complications associated with being overweight in childhood include pre-diabetes, sleep apnea, and joint problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I begin giving my child solid foods?
Your child should be breastfed or formula-fed exclusively for the first few months of life. Formula or breast milk should continue to be available until age least the first birthday, although parents may begin introducing solid foods gradually and individually beginning at approximately 4 to 6 months of age. Before introducing solid foods, your child should show interest in food and be capable of holding his or her head up alone.
What types of foods should my child be eating?
Children need balanced diets full of vitamins and nutrients. Although babies younger than 1 should not be given certain foods like honey, it is important to ensure that no major food groups are being excluded from an older child’s diet. Toddlers and young children need at least 2 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, as well as 4 servings of whole grains, 3 servings of dairy and 2 servings of protein. School-age children follow similar guidelines, only doubling the servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Make an effort to restrict processed foods, high sodium foods, and foods high in sugar when possible.
Is there anything else I should know about teaching my child to live healthfully?
Yes. Exercise is good nutrition’s best friend. What better time to teach your child about the importance of exercise and physical activity than during childhood. Remember, children model what they see their parents do, so make exercise a family activity. Play tag, ride bikes together or go swimming. Exercise can be fun!