A healthy child is a happy child, which makes nutrition the top of a mom’s priority list. Did you know that, compared to adults, children need more nutritious foods for their size to support growth, developing bones, building of muscle, and the energy needed to explore the world? Food and drinks provide the energy and nutrients that a young child needs to grow and thrive. But food provides more than just nutrition: it also helps your little one with good hand-eye co-ordination, body growth, strong bones, concentration at school, and even healthier sleep patterns.
How to balance your child’s diet
As your child begins to establish a relationship with food, it’s important to set the scene for healthy eating habits at a young age. A child’s eating habits in the early years can have lifelong consequences on their health. Your child’s diet each day should include three main meals with two smaller snacks in-between. Just like a see-saw on the playground, your child’s nutrition is a balancing act of three main food groups: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
Carbohydrates are the body’s first choice for energy to support growing little bodies. Choose mostly minimally processed carbohydrates for your child such as wholegrain/ high fibre bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, wholewheat couscous, bran, and oats. These foods contain fibre for healthy tummies. Another carbohydrate food is sugar. Sugar has very little nutritional value but is packed with energy, which is why it should be limited to special occasions, whether as sugar added to tea, cereal or yoghurt, or as part of sugar-rich treats like cakes, soft drinks, and sugary cereals.
Did you know that fruit and vegetables fall under the carbohydrate food group too? Rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fibre, all fruit and vegetables are highly nutritious for preventing illness and disease and improving overall health. Make fruit and vegetables part of meals and snacks each day as much as possible.
Use the colours of the rainbow to help ensure variety, for example:
- Purple – berries and beetroot
- Red – strawberries and tomatoes
- Green – apple, spinach, etc.
Start a vegetable garden with your children and harvest the vegetables to prepare together at dinner. Make a fruit and vegetable star chart, place it somewhere visible, and offer your child a reward, such as going to the park or an extra story at night before bed when a goal is reached. Boost your child’s nutrition intake by blending fruit like berries, mango and banana with yoghurt and/or milk, make vegetable fritters using pumpkin, corn or beetroot, and add small diced vegetables like carrots, mushrooms, peas, baby marrows and celery into mince, soup and stews.
Providing the building blocks for muscle, growth, and a strong immune system is protein. Fish, chicken, lean red meat, eggs, dairy, and legumes such as lentils, beans and chickpeas are good protein choices. Try a cheesy omelette for breakfast, a creamy yoghurt with bone-building calcium as a snack, and meatballs and fish cakes make for great protein-rich finger foods.
Avocado, olive oil, and nut butters (sugar- and salt-free) are examples of healthy fats to include as part of your child’s diet. Fats provide the body with vitamins A, D, E and K, to protect the heart, and improve how the cells of the body function. These fats also provide essential fatty acids for healthy eyes and a healthy brain. Choose mostly healthier fats instead of the less healthy saturated fats like butter, cream, coconut oil, bacon, fatty cuts of meat, and chicken skin.
For a convenient way to get your baby or child to enjoy fruit and veg, why not try Squish?
Squish offers a range of 100% fruit and veg purees and pressed 100% fruit and veg juices. The convenient pouches are well-loved amongst mommies and are perfect for baby from the first introduction of solids, right through the weaning process – from babies to toddlers and beyond. Squish provides delicious tasting convenience, whether at home or on the go, and is preservative free, colourant free and flavourant free with no added starch.
Squish 100% fruit and veg puree and juice flavours give parents a broader range of taste options for even the fussiest of eaters, right from the first introduction of solids through to a full meal, or tasty snack.
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