Important FAQs on balancing your child’s diet
Every mother wants her baby to grow steadily and happily, and reach all the milestones he or she is meant to. And for that, providing adequate and balanced nutrition is a must. However, getting your child to follow the right diet can be an uphill task. You know that he or she should consume foods from all major food groups, but you might also be wondering how to accomplish that. To help you understand that, we present a list of frequently asked questions and answers related to a balanced diet for babies and toddlers.
What are nutrients?
Nutrients are food components like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and minerals, which must be present in the human diet and should be supplied to the body in adequate amounts. These nutrients provide energy, aid growth, maintain and repair the body’s cells and tissues, and also ensure overall wellbeing. Deficiency of any one of these nutrients can lead to different diseases.
What is a healthy balanced diet for kids?
A balanced diet comprises all the necessary nutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and minerals, in adequate amounts. A baby who is getting a balanced diet of high nutritional value is said to have a good nutritional status.
Once the baby becomes six months of age, his/her nutritional requirement increases, and breast milk is no longer sufficient. When a mother introduces solid foods in her baby’s diet, initially, there are just a few items. But gradually, she introduces the baby to various food groups, which are not only easy to digest, but also provide new textures and tastes to the little one. By the time a baby completes his or her first year, you can give him or her complex foods like whole grains or pulses.
A balanced diet for kids of 2 years of age is completely different though, as they might turn out to be fussy eaters. This can lead to insufficient food intake. Also, if they fall ill, they will be able to eat less food. So, a balanced meal plan for toddlers should be followed, which contains different food groups in the right quantities.
What is the significance of a balanced diet for children?
Childhood, especially till the age of 5 years, is a period of rapid growth in terms of physical and cognitive development. Therefore, a balanced diet of high nutritional value is of utmost importance for kids. When a child becomes 1 year of age, he achieves three times his birth weight. There is a gain in terms of muscles, tissues, and skeletal growth too.
As kids grow, their digestive system also improves gradually and they start accepting the foods which are provided to them.
Between the age of 2 and 5 years, children should ideally adapt to the family’s food habits. A balanced diet, thus, is significant for a child’s growth and should comprise various food groups. Also, you should note the quantity as well as the frequency of meals.
How to plan a healthy balanced diet for kids?
While planning a meal for kids, mothers should include foods from all major food groups. Make sure you combine different colours, shapes and textures to make the food attractive and appetizing. The meal should also be easy to prepare and easy to digest.
How can you meet your baby’s daily nutritional requirements?
A balanced diet for kids can be a combination of various food groups like – foods rich in carbohydrates (cereals, starchy roots and tubers), foods rich in healthy fats (nuts and vegetable oils), and foods rich in vitamins and minerals (fresh fruits and vegetables). You should also provide protein in the form of egg, fish, meat, paneer or soybean. Dietary fibre can be obtained from whole grains, seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Why is it important to consider the food acceptability of a baby?
As a mother, you need to plan a balanced diet full of nutrients for your baby. And at the same time, you should keep your baby’s likes and dislikes in mind. So, try to include a variety of colours, textures and flavours to increase the meal’s acceptability.
What is food safety and why is it important?
Though main meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner are very important for your baby, you should include snacks too. Good snacking habits can fulfil nutrient gaps, if any. For snacks, you can offer pureed fruits and vegetables or smoothies and shakes. As your baby grows up to become a toddler, introduce healthy finger foods as your child will be able to eat them unsupervised.
Why is it important to control meal portions?
The portions you need to serve your baby will depend on factors like age, gender, and activity. Besides considering the quality of food, you should also consider the quantity you are serving. Your baby has a small stomach and cannot consume big portions, so try giving only small portions at a time. Giving small, frequent meals is the best idea.
All in all, for the good health of your baby, provide balanced meals always. Keep the above pointers in mind to make meals interesting and reduce chances of fussy eating.