Sometime around month 14, many children’s appetites change and parents may be concerned about their weight and diet. It’s important to have a basic understanding of the nutrients that are necessary for your child’s growth and development.
Your Child’s Development
Around this time, many parents become worried about their toddler’s weight and physical development. The concern is usually caused by the child’s lack of appetite but sometimes is caused by a child being overweight.
At times, it may seem that your child is not eating enough. This is not only due to your child’s appetite, but is also caused by the inability to sit still long enough! A toddler will usually only want to eat until the hungry feeling goes away as opposed to eating a full meal like adults do. Most of the time, this is nothing to be concerned with. Just make sure that you offer your toddler more nutritious snacks during the day to make up for the lack of eating a full meal.
If your child seems to be overweight, talk to your GP. You may need to change certain aspects of your child’s diet such as switching to milk that is lower in fat and limiting the amount of milk and juice.
In either case, there are ten nutrients that all children need for proper development.
- Calcium – Your child should get an average of 500 milligrams of calcium per day. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are the best sources of calcium. Not only is calcium vital to developing strong bones and teeth, it also helps blood clot, aids in proper nerve and muscle function, and helps convert food to energy.
- Iron – Your child should have an average of 7 milligrams of iron per day. Iron is crucial for making haemoglobin which is the blood pigment that carries oxygen. A lack of iron can lead to anaemia and problems in cognitive development. The best sources of iron are found in meat, seafood, and poultry but there are many non-animal sources such as dark green leafy vegetables and legumes. You can also buy products that are fortified with iron such as cereals and grains.
- Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) – There are two EFA’s; Omega-6 and Omega-3. Your child should have an average of 7.0g per day of Omega 6 and 10g per day of Omega 3. EFA’s are vital to healthy cells and nerves. EFA’s also aid in brain function and eyesight. Most children get plenty of Omega-6 fats in their diets. Omega-3’s however, are more difficult to obtain. The best sources of omega-3 include flaxseed oil, walnuts, peanut butter, wheat germ, soybean oil, canola oil, and fortified eggs and oily fish.
- Magnesium – Your child should get 80mg of magnesium per day. Magnesium strengthens bones, regulates the heart, and supports the immune system. The best sources are nuts and legumes.
- Potassium – Your child should have 3,000mg per day. Potassium is vital for blood pressure and muscle function. The best sources are fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin A – Your child should get 1,000 IU of vitamin A per day. Vitamin A is necessary for bone and tissue growth, blood vessel development and immunity. The best sources are fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin C – Your child should get 15 mg of vitamin C per day. Vitamin C boosts immunity, strengthens blood vessels, and aids in healing. The best sources are brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin D – Your child should get 400 IU of vitamin D per day. Helps the body to absorb certain minerals, regulates cell growth, promotes immunity and builds strong teeth and bones. The best sources are salmon, Swiss cheese, tuna, and products that are fortified with vitamin D.
- Vitamin E – Your child should get 6mg per day. Vitamin E helps the body repair cells and limits the production of free radicals. The best sources include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seed.
- Zinc – Your child should have 3mg of zinc per day. Zinc is needed for proper digestion and is essential for growth. Zinc is found in many foods including cooked beef, steak, baked beans, yogurt, oatmeal and cheese.