Now that the holiday season has come to a close and we are all getting busier, this may be a good time to get a reminder on the importance of early childhood nutrition. The blog was posted by that NovakDjokovicfoundation.org, which is a foundation focused on research and education to ensure every child is given the opportunity to reach their potential. Something which we believe in too!
Why is Nutrition so Important for Children?
The relationship between nutrition, health and learning is undeniably strong: nutrition is one of the three major factors that impact a child’s development. As genes and environment are the other two factors, eating certain food cannot guarantee that your child will be smarter, although my mother did successfully teach (trick?) me to eat fish when I was little for that very reason. Nevertheless, research studies show that nutrition in a child’s early years is linked to their health and academic performance in later years.
Nutrition and Health
However you might personally define it, “a child’s early years” begin before birth when it comes to nutrition. Under-nutrition during pregnancy stunts foetal growth and can lead to poor brain development that results in irreversible chronic illnesses. Under-nutrition of a breastfeeding mother will likewise negatively impact a child’s development, especially in the first 6 months when breast milk is all he/she is consuming. For all soon-to-be and new mothers, it’s worth making sure you’re consuming a healthy and balanced diet full of the vital nutrients that both you and your child need: carbohydrates, protein, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and D. Although at first glance this list seems overbearing, realistically you probably consume most of these nutrients already – it’s just about following proportions, which the Eatwell plate helps to illustrate.
“Eat up please”
When there’s work to go to, bills to pay and dishes to wash, getting your child to eat what they don’t want to (especially when doing so might cause a much-dreaded tantrum) is oftentimes the least of your worries. But it’s critically important. Following nutrition guidelines are relatively straightforward during pregnancy, as well as at the start of your child’s life. When your child starts to form likes and dislikes, my advice to you is to accept preferences but continue to introduce new foods by making silly faces and playing peek-a-boo until you hear that giggle and see your toddler happily putting the spoon into their mouth themselves. Persevere. I promise he/she will thank you one day.