Your growing child's nutritional needs

Your growing child's nutritional needs

As children continue to grow up, the right nutrition is important for the healthy development of their thinking, reasoning and learning skills.

First Birthday

A toddler is a child between the ages of one to three years.

Once your child celebrates her first birthday, she is no longer considered a baby and will earn the new title of a toddler.

No longer a drooling little baby with a gummy smile, your increasingly active toddler will soon be able to walk steadily on her own, feed herself without any help, understand simple instructions and strive for independence.

So her nutrition needs to be tailored accordingly to her new development stages so that she can progress from one developmental stage to another. In this article we share with you the three main stages of your child’s mental and physical development from the ages of two years to six years and above, and the nutritional needs at each different stage.

dutch lady

At two years old, your little one will be increasingly active.

Discovering her surrounding years

Between the ages of two to four your inquisitive tot will start to enjoy exploring her surroundings. She will discover new things from her surroundings and she will examine those new objects by engaging all five of her senses – Sight, Hearing, Smell, Touch and Taste.

But as your active toddler tastes and touches everything during her fun discovery, there is a high chance of her coming into contact with germs and falling sick, thus affecting her energy and enthusiasm to continue discovering her surroundings. This is the age at where her explorations begin to challenge her immune system.

So preventing infections will allow your little one the freedom to explore.

Important nutrients at this stage

These years of life when they are around two years and above, are a crucial stage when the brain is especially sensitive to nutrition and require nutrients such as DHA to help with healthy brain development and performance.

At this stage, your little one will also gain gross motor skills through walking, sitting and running, which require coordination and control of large muscles.

So to help your toddler maintain normal nerve and muscle function her diet should include enough Magnesium and Vitamin D. These nutrients are essential to strengthening bone health, thus allowing your child grow up healthy and strong.

As they come into contact with more people and the outside world, immunity plays a significant role to ensure that they can discover their surroundings with freedom. A balanced diet at this stage helps to support their immune system and allows your little one to discover even more!

Preschooler-3

Preschoolers are children aged three to five years old.

The preschool years

As your child enters the preschool age, you may notice that she is beginning to build little houses out of toy bricks, or insisting you play a game that she made up, and suddenly it dawns on you that your tiny tot is not so tiny anymore.

She will start to fantasise more, invent new games, engage in role-playing, or even experiment with interesting food combinations such as dipping her lollipop into her milk!

All these are signs of her emerging creativity and inventiveness, which is normal among children above the age of four when they are in their preschool, as they begin to display problem-solving skills which involve adaptability or flexibility of thought. Brain and cognitive development is very important at this stage, as children learn, memorise and make connections.

Important nutrients at this stage

Your cheeky pre-schooler is not only learning more now, but also memorising and making connections so her brain and cognitive processing will benefit from receiving enough DHA.

An adequate intake of Tyrosine will help them with mental alertness. Nutrients like Choline and Magnesium will support adaptability and flexibility of thought which in turn supports your child’s problem solving skills and at the same time help to promote calcium absorption and retention.

By now your preschooler is probably running around the playground with her peers, having fun playdates with her little friends, and playing exciting games with mummy and daddy, so it is also important she builds strong and healthy bones with the help of Calcium and enough Vitamin D in her diet.

Apart from all these nutrients, it is important as well to ensure the adequate intake amount of fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals to ensure your little one’s healthy development.

Primary 1

Your little girl will soon be starting in a formal school.

The gaining even more knowledge years

Now that your child is about to enter formal schooling (how time flies!), she will undergo remarkable physiological changes.

You can expect your child’s brain to be more mature as the grey matter continues to thicken – particularly at the frontal area, which is in charge of judgement, organization and planning.

This is the age when she will be beginning her formal schooling, and hence her ability to concentrate and remembering more things will gain importance.

Not only is a good diet with nutrients to build brain, bone and muscles important at this stage, but your growing child also needs to have enough sleep and engage in physical activities to help with their overall development.

Important nutrients at this stage

Although every child grows and develops at a different pace, as parents we can provide her with good nutrition according to her different life-stages, so that she is healthy and strong enough to hit the next milestone.

Hence, on top of DHA (for brain development), which she can easily obtain by including fish in her diet, her nutrient needs now include adequate amounts of Magnesium for memory enhancement that can be obtained from dark leafy green, nuts and seeds. Food rich in vitamins and minerals such as fruits and vegetables is a must to be included in her diet.

As she is now learning even more in school, Vitamin B2 and B12 can be included in her diet to help produce energy and improve brain function. These are essential for her growing brain and body as she enters her formal school years.

Not to forget also Vitamin D which can be obtained from dairy products such as milk should also be included into your child’s diet for developing bone strength.

What do you include in your child’s diet to ensure she grows up healthy and strong? Do you agree that nutrition and exercise plays an important role in your little one’s development? We would love to read your comments!

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