As your little one starts growing, her food habits and preferences change. As a parent, you would be naturally worried. Leaf through this article to learn about the common food and nutrition concerns for your little one, from infancy right through preschool.
Are you a parent to an infant, a toddler or a preschooler? Are you unsure about the nutritional content of the meals you prepare for your baby? Do you want to make more informed choices when you are preparing her meal or packing her lunch? The common food and nutrition concerns here will tell you more about the things you are putting on your child’s plate.
Common Concerns for Infants and Toddlers
1. Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is present in very small amounts in breast milk. So even if you are nursing your baby, you might be concerned about the lack of Vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D might lead to the formation of soft bones, and result in improper development in your child. Exposing your baby to sunlight for short amounts of time will ensure that s/he gets an adequate amount of vitamin D.
2. Iron Deficiency
As your child starts growing, she would need more iron. After four months, the iron in breastfed milk won’t be sufficient to meet her iron needs. At this time, you should start feeding her iron-fortified baby foods to meet the iron requirements in her body. Moving on to toddlerhood, if the baby is having more than three cups of milk, the chance of his becoming anemic are also high. The reason being that milk often replaces other dietary iron rich sources. In addition, ample amount of fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet.
3. Calcium Deficiency
Calcium deficiency is the reason for osteoporosis in later life. You need to ensure that your little one is getting enough of calcium through fresh foods. Milk and milk products are the chief source of calcium for kids. But make sure that you do not let milk dominate her mealtimes which should be a balanced diet, and give her milk and milk products like cheese, yoghurt buttermilk, lassi etc. in the required quantities.
Common Concerns for Preschoolers
As your little one steps into preschool, your food concerns can change, as by now your child has a mind of her own. She knows what she wants on her plate and what she does not like. Along with deficiencies of certain essential nutrients, some additional worries might creep in.
1. Fussy Vegetable and Fruit Eater
At this stage, your child might start asking for macaroni, cheese, toast and potatoes. While some doctors say this is a passing phase, you can trick your preschooler into eating right by
- Not getting into a meal battle with her.
- Feeding her sweet potato instead of regular potatoes.
- Taking advantage of snack times by preparing fruit-based snacks of different kinds.
2. Sweet Tooth & Insisting on Junk Food
If your child has a sweet tooth and insists on having pastries and cakes, she would be losing on many vital nutrients that are an essential part of growing up. You can supplement her craving for sweets by :
- Offering fruits, low-fat puddings or angel cakes
- Include snacks such as pretzels and butter-free popcorn
If you are in doubt about introducing a certain food to your child, it is always better to consult a pediatric nutritionist. Remember, a little bit of mindful feeding goes a long way in ensuring that your little one is growing just fine, and reaching her developmental milestones at the right time.