Nutrition is a significant factor in the growth, development and overall functioning of a child. Good nutrition provides the energy and nutrients essential to sustain life and promotes physical, emotional and cognitive development. The development of healthy eating practices and physical activity can prevent disease and support a lifetime of good health. Good nutrition is critical to optimizing each child’s potential for success. Meeting nutritional requirements throughout childhood is essential to full intellectual development. Research documents tell us that under nutrition has a negative impact on children’s behavior, performance and overall quality of development. Children require sufficient energy and essential nutrients each day to concentrate on accomplished learning tasks.


Prenatal Nutrition

Prenatal Nutrition

Good prenatal nutrition ensures a healthy start for a newborn and promotes the mothers wellbeing during and after pregnancy. Maternal nutrition during pregnancy affects both the health of the mother and growing fetus. Requirements of Energy and certain specific nutrients is increased for proper growth and development of the baby. Consumption of healthy foods and specific nutrient supplements meet these increased demands.

Pregnant mothers need to be educated about importance of healthy diet and significance of sufficient weight gain during this period. Birth weight is an indicator of maternal nutrition and the growth of the fetus.

Undernourished and hence underweight mothers need special attention as they are likely to give birth to premature and low birth weight infants. Observations through research studies suggest strong correlation between low birth weight and adverse health outcomes in adulthood like Hypertension, type II Diabetes & Coronary heart disease. Overweight also need to give special attention to allow proper growth of the fetus.

Energy and protein requirements increase to support weight gain. Vitamin and mineral requirements are increased during pregnancy. Eating a well balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, milk and milk products provide needed vitamins. Iron and Calcium are of special concern. Deficiency of Iron can cause anemia causing excessive tiredness in the mother. Calcium supplementation through the diet and supplements is important for prevent bone loss in the mother. Folic acid is an extremely important vitamin during pregnancy and even preconception. Deficiency of Folic acid is associated with congenital malformation known as Neural Tube Defects like Spina Bifida. Consumption of sufficient amount of vegetables specifically the dark green leafy vegetables provide folic acid in its natural form.

Zinc is considered an equally important mineral for fetal development. Maternal zinc deficiency is responsible for fetal growth retardation, abnormalities and pre term deliveries. Also, deficiency of Iodine may lead to physical and mental retardation consumption of Iodized salt can prevent deficiency. Adequate Vitamin A is essential to boost up the immunity.

Consumption of Alcohol, smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of low birth weight and malformations in the baby.

Thus good nutrition and adequate weight gain in pregnancy increases the likelihood that a healthy baby would be born with a normal weight gain.

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Age 0 to 3 years

Age 0 to 3 years

Nutrition during infancy promotes normal growth, brain development and prevents illness during first year of life. Infants grow and develop rapidly in the first 2 years making them vulnerable to nutritional inadequacies.

Exclusive breast feeding is advised during the first six months of early infancy as mother’s milk is matchless to any other alternative. Human milk is specifically composed to meet the nutrient requirements of the human infant and is a source of optimal nutrition. Breast feeding not only provides immunological protection but develops a strong mother – baby bond. Also it is convenient and safe.

Appropriate supplementary foods should be introduced after 6 months. Introduction of wide variety of solid foods provides the best opportunity for optimal growth and health during infancy. By second year of age child should be consuming variety of foods from the adult diet to ensure a nutritionally balanced intake. Introduction of finger foods will not only promote independence but will also help motor coordination.

Education of mothers on nutrition and dietary practices for the infant and toddler helps her to make right food choices. Wrong choices may lead to malnutrition of the child causing underweight or overweight kids. Researches now suggest that postnatal nutrition influence the health later in life. Correct diet patterns in infancy and toddler hood could reduce the risk of chronic metabolic health problems.

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Age 3 to 5 years

Age 3 to 5 years

Growth during this period is in spurts. During these years’ specific nutrients such as proteins, calcium, and iron needs are higher since there is bone growth and muscle development continues in this age group. Vitamins, especially vitamin C and Vitamin A, are required for growth and development of tissues. At this age the children need a lot of variety in their foods. They might relish a certain food for a few days then might completely not like it. The child is usually very interested in color, texture and form of food. Finger foods are the key at this phase, for example raw fruits, cut vegetables, stuffed paratha’s, dry sabzi’s, so that they can pick it out and eat. Children at this age prefer simple flavors and simple foods. They like doing things by themselves, so eating on their own should be encouraged. They have started school, so their interaction with other kids, sharing food, group eating, should be encouraged. The emphasis of the diet should be on quality and quantity.

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Age 5 to 8 years

Age 5 to 8 years

The child’s growth is rapid. They need sufficient calories for growth, proteins, vitamins, calcium, and iron. Even the vitamin requirements are high. The children at this age have developed their taste. Junk food is being introduced thorough socializing. The children will start sport activities, so their need for higher energy foods increases. Energy dense foods should be given, but it should be lower in fat and higher in protein. Include fruits in their daily diet and milk should be a must. Egg is a great high protein, iron, and vitamin rich food. Fast food should be a treat. This is a more habit-forming phase. Routine eating habits need to be established.

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Age 8 to 12 years

Age 8 to 12 years

During this phase the child’s growth is not rapid, but continues gradually. Boys and girls have to build up resources for the adolescent period that is going to come up. The boys grow slower during these years than girls. The requirements for food per unit body weight are less. Eating snacks in the mid afternoon becomes common. This is where the mother’s role to offer a variety of nutritious snacks is important.

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Age 12 to 16 years

Age 12 to 16 years

This is the adolescent period. It is characterized by the onset of puberty, which is the final growth spurt of childhood. Maturation of children varies widely. Boys tend to mature later than girls. This fluctuation in development accounts for the wide differences in metabolic rates, in requirements of food and in scholastic capacity. Boys though slow in growth beat the girls in height and weight since they put on much more muscle mass and there is growth of long bones.

This period is characterized by a heavy demand of calories and proteins. The child’s appetite increases in this age and more carbohydrate and fat containing foods are consumed with less intake of protein. Iron and calcium is still needed to support bone and muscle growth. Girls need more iron than boys at this age. This is the age of crash diets, which can lead to malnourishment. For girls this is the period that the body is preparing it self for motherhood. For both boys and girls, a good staple healthy diet limited in fats but nutritious is very important.

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Childology is offering the following services in the field of child nutrition.

  • Nutritional counseling
  • Nutritional workshops for tweens & teens.
  • Sports & nutrition
  • Obesity assessment
  • Child fitness test
  • Menu development consultation for preschools and daycare centres.
  • Child specific nutrition education.

To know how CHILDOLOGY can help you with NUTRITION , CONTACT US.

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