Child Nutrition

.. ough calories, or the child’s body will use needed protein and fat stores for energy. Calories must be provided throughout the day. Because they have small appetites, preschool children generally need two or three snacks in addition to three meals every day. If a child skips a meal, not enough calories or other nutrients will be eaten for that day.

The calories from skipped meals are not made up at a later meal. Therefore, regular meals and snacks are very important to assure good growth. The caloric needs of children of the same size, age and sex vary. Until the age of ten, there is little difference in the calorie needs of boys and girls. Generally, children between the ages of one and three need 1000 to 1300 calories per day.

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Older children between the ages of four and six need 1300 to 1800 calories per day. The needs of individual children will vary with the amount of exercise that child gets. Children who are very active and run, hop, and climb need more calories than those who are less active do. Some children eat more and grow faster than others. Every child eats more on some days than others do. Since growth requires energy, and energy comes from food, it is no wonder that a child’s appetite generally increases during a growth spurt. Fluctuations in appetite and satiety are normal. When growth levels off, calorie needs lessen, so appetite will diminish as well. Calcium is best absorbed when vitamin D is present in the same meal or snack.

Fluid milk is fortified with vitamin D, so it is the primary source of these nutrients in children’s diets. Additionally, a person’s skin can make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Protein Protein is essential for growth. Protein is used to build new blood, bone and muscles. Because children are growing, their protein needs are higher for their body size than adults. Following age appropriate food patterns will assure that the children in your care will be getting adequate amounts of protein.

Calcium Calcium provides the structure of bone and teeth. Because children’s bones must lengthen for them to grow, calcium is a critical nutrient during childhood. Children need two to four times more calcium for their body weight than adults need. The calcium that is stored during the childhood years is vital to the health and well being of that person throughout life. According to the American Dietetic Association, our bodies have the ability to store calcium in our bones until we are about age 30. After that age, we must depend on the calcium that we eat in our food, or we must withdraw calcium from our skeleton’s savings account. The denser the bones are in childhood, the better prepared a person will be to support teen growth and still withstand the inevitable bone losses of later life.

Perhaps you can now see the importance of eating adequate amounts of calcium-rich foods during the childhood years. To decide how much to feed a preschooler, just follow the child’s appetite. The caregiver should neither coerce a child to eat nor withhold food. Simply offer healthful food to the child and let the child decide how much of that food to eat. A child may choose not to eat the foods offered for many reasons.

Perhaps the child is not hungry or is not feeling well. The child may have an aversion for the food served, or perhaps other happenings in the dining area distract the child from eating. Children sometimes use food as an attempt to exert independence or control over the caregiver by choosing not to eat. In this last case, the child is less likely to continue refusing foods as long as the caregiver makes no issue of the behavior. Little children have little appetites. Some children will fill up on liquids rather than eat the food offered at a meal. Even milk can take the place of other foods to the detriment of overall intake.

If this happens put a cup of water alongside the milk so that the child will be encouraged to quench her thirst without satisfying her appetite. Some sweet foods, like soft drinks, punch, candies and popsicles, provide empty calories – calories without any vitamins or other nutrients. It is important to avoid feeding children too many empty calorie foods so that their appetites are not satisfied before they can get in needed nutrients. In addition to their filling up on sugary foods, these foods contribute to tooth decay. So it is a good idea to avoid serving too many sweet foods to preschool children.

Sodas and other sugary drinks should not be offered in the day care setting. Like sugar, honey can also be classified as an empty calorie food. Contrary to popular belief, there are no nutritional advantages in choosing honey over sugar. Although honey contains some vitamins and minerals that are not available in sugar, the trace amounts of these nutrients are not significant when compared to daily needs. Honey can be a good substitute for sugar, particularly when a recipe does not permit sugar to dissolve. One caution, however, is that honey should not be served to infants under one year of age. Conditions in the gastrointestinal tracts of very young infants may favor the development of infant botulism when honey is eaten.

The preference for sweet tasting foods is inborn, so children cannot be trusted to choose nutritious foods on the basis of taste alone. Active, normal children may occasionally be offered treats of sugary foods, however, these foods should be chosen to offer some other nutrients as well. For example, ice cream and pudding are made from milk, and cookies or quick breads can be made with dried fruit and whole-grain or enriched flours. It is recommended that sweets, cookies and other sweet baked products be served for snacks no more than two times per week. Children can be overwhelmed by large quantities of food.

It is a good policy to offer small servings and allow the child to ask for seconds. Always keep in mind that that child only knows the amount needed to satisfy a child’s appetite. Teenager Nutrition The nutritional needs of a teenager vary with their growth. And with increased activity, calorie and nutrient needs increase. Food choices can include snacks, pizza, burgers, and even sweets if everything is in the right balance.

A good plan might include: a bagel, topped with peanut butter and sliced apples, an orange and a cup of skim milk for breakfast. For lunch–a sandwich of lean ham, turkey, or beef, low-fat cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts and onions, along with a piece of fresh fruit, graham crackers, and flavored low-fat yogurt. Dinner might be pasta mixed with black beans and low-fat cheese, or a Canadian bacon pizza, fruit salad, skim milk, and pudding for dessert. For snacks,try bagels and low-fat cream cheese, instant soups, popcorn, pretzels, veggies and low-fat dip. Yogurt, pudding, graham crackers and quick English muffin mini-pizzas make easy, nutritous treats as well. References: Internet resource Internet resource Internet resource Medicine Essays.