7 Nutritional Growth Strategies For Children

Nutritional Growth Strategies For Child

Parents who encourage healthy eating habits in young children and ensure sufficient nutrition can lead to better developmental outcomes later on. Proper nutrition is the foundation for a child and is essential for,

  • Physical growth
  • Brain development
  • Emotional and cognitive development
  • Chronic disease prevention
  • Mental health

Did you know that undernutrition is responsible for approximately 45% of deaths among children under 5 years of age? For your child’s proper development, start implementing nutritional strategies from the time they are born. Nutritional growth does not only come from foods but also from maintaining a regular and healthy eating environment.

So, today, we will be talking about the important nutritional growth strategy for your child.

Nutritional Needs at Different Stages

The journey of nutrition from infancy to adolescence is a continuous process that directly affects mental and physical development. During infancy, babies primarily depend on breast milk or formula. These baby foods are rich in essential nutrients for their proper development. By the time they reach six months and transit to solid food, a variety of nutritious food sources play a significant role. From the mother’s womb to two years old, nutritious food is more important than any other stage in life. This is for the future brain, muscles, and body development with survival and optimal growth.

7 Nutritional Growth Strategies For Children

As parents or caregivers, it is our duty to ensure the proper nutritional food for children. Here are seven must-followed strategies for nutritional growth for your child’s future health and wellness. 

1. Balanced Diet

The first step is ensuring a balanced meal with the right portion. Understanding this need and requirement is crucial so the child gets proper nutrition based on their age.

A balanced diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy or dairy alternatives. Also, their food should contain essential vitamins and minerals.

The food portions for young children vary as they grow up. Babies from the age of 6 months require less but frequent food. As they age, their food portions increase, and they need more energy.

Average Daily Intake for a Toddler

Food Group Servings Per Day
Calories 1,000–1,400
Protein 2
Fruits and Vegetables 2 to 3
Grains 6
Dairy 2 to 3 

Average Daily Intake for Ages 2 to 4

Food Group Servings Per Day
Calories 1,000–1,400
Protein 2 to 4 ounces
Fruits and Vegetables 1 to 1.5 cups
Grains 3 to 5 ounces
Dairy 2 to 2.5 cups

2. Good Nutrition Starts with Breast Milk Or Quality Formula

Breastfeeding is highly recommended by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). They advise that infants should start breastfeeding within an hour of being born. It’s a natural blessing how breastfeeding can save lives, protect children from diseases, enhance brain and early child development, and provide a safe and nutritious food source for kids during their first two years.

In case breastfeeding is not feasible, it’s essential to consult with a pediatrician. They can help you choose an appropriate formula that fulfills your baby’s nutritional requirements. Pediatrics are there to provide support and ensure that your baby receives excellent nutrition from breast milk.

3. Adequate Protein And Healthy Fats Intake

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in building and strengthening muscles, especially for children.

Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, and beef, are excellent sources of high-quality protein. They provide essential amino acids that are necessary for muscle development. Fish, such as salmon, tuna, and trout, are not only rich in protein but also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs are a versatile and affordable source of protein, making them a nutritious choice.

Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, are excellent sources of protein.

Beans and legumes, as well as tofu and tempeh, including lentils, chickpeas, and black beans, are plant-based protein sources. They are also high in fiber and promote a healthy gut. 

In addition to protein, it is important to include healthy fats in your child’s diet. Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews, are packed with healthy fats.

4. Calcium and Iron-rich foods

Children need calcium to develop strong bones and teeth. So, make sure they have dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Also, include fortified plant-based options in their diet for more calcium intake. 

Iron is also crucial for supporting the growth of babies. Give iron-rich foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, fortified cereals, and leafy green vegetables in their meals. Iron is especially important during growth periods as it helps deliver oxygen to the body’s cells.

5. Give Vitamin-rich Foods, Fruits and Vegetables

Vitamin-rich Foods, Fruits and Vegetables

Make sure to offer children a variety of colorful fruits and veggies to ensure they get all the essential vitamins they need. This is another important nutritional strategy for children. Load up on fruits and veggies packed with vitamins and minerals crucial for their growth and immune system. 

Vitamin A is super important for healthy skin, eyes, and bone health. Vitamin C is key for boosting immunity and fighting off illnesses. And don’t forget about the B vitamins – they’re essential for metabolism and energy. 

Orange fruits and veggies, dark leafy greens, mangoes, papayas, and more are good options for vitamin A. Milk, cheese, eggs, and yellow-to-orange veggies are great sources of Vitamin B. And if you’re looking for Vitamin D, reach for oranges or fortified juices. Even morning sun exposure is a good option to get natural vitamin D.

6. Limit Sugary and Processed Foods

It’s important to limit the amount of sugary snacks, drinks, and processed foods that your kids consume. If you want the proper nutrition for your child, then you have to cut off the unhealthy nutrients, too.

Many parents ignore the harmfulness of sugar items like candies or other things. These items are packed with empty calories and can push out nutrient-rich foods. 

Ultimately, this has negative effects on kids’ health, as it can result in the accumulation of hidden fat. This fat can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of serious illnesses. Type 2 diabetes, or heart disease, is common among today’s children.

Try to give your child naturally sweetened products, such as sugarcane juice, honey, maple syrup, or sweet fruits. Try to sweeten their meal by adding honey instead of sugar.

7. Positive and Regular Meal Environment

Try to include a positive and regular meal environment for your child from an early age. This is one of the essential nutritional strategies you must need to follow. 

Regular meals and healthy snacks will help your kids to keep their energy levels up and support growth. Try not to skip their meal, especially breakfast, as it sets the tone for the day.

Also, try to eat together with the whole family. This will encourage your kid to form healthy eating habits and be exposed to a diverse set of foods. They will not be choosy. By maintaining regular dining time, they will get the habit of eating on time. 

Also, teach children to listen to their bodies and make healthy choices based on hunger cues rather than forcing them to finish everything on their plate.

Many people think of fancy foods as nutritional. But this is not true. You can simply shape the food like a star, rocket, or fish using a cutter and make it visually appealing. This is all you need.

Final Verdict

Nutritional growth strategy starts with ensuring a balanced diet for the child. For infants, breast milk is enough, but when they turn six months old, it is time to take good care of their food.

Add an adequate amount of protein, vitamins, irons, and calories to your child’s plate. Also, using colorful and variety in their food will attract the kids to eat.

But most importantly, we should create a healthy eating environment for the whole family. Regular, on-time food always boosts your child’s energy and lets them grow properly.

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Emily Pham

Infant Teacher

My name is Emily and I am an infant teacher. My aim with this position is to learn how children develop as unique individuals and learn how to support their holistic growth. I am currently a student at San Francisco
State University majoring in Child and Adolescent Development. With this experience, I am hoping to get a sense on whether I want to continue to work in the classroom or if I want to learn the administrative side of education. The experience of working directly with children is gratifying and I wish to create a safe space for children to explore with all of their senses as they develop their own personalities. I hope to be able to help build a strong foundation so that the children can have the confidence and ability to express themselves.