Starting healthy eating habits early is a great goal since it leads to healthier lifelong eating habits. But with so much conflicting information about the best way to feed your child, you’re not alone if you’re feeling confused.
Our team of qualified pediatricians at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics in Darien and Norwalk, Connecticut, understands it’s not always easy to know how to feed your child to optimize their health. That’s why we offer personalized nutritional services with customized dietary recommendations for your growing child.
Keep reading to learn some of our top nutrition tips, and how our team of experts can help you optimize your child’s health.
One of the most important concepts when it comes to feeding your child for optimal health is to provide nutrient-rich foods and avoid high-calorie yet nutrient-low foods, which make up many of the so-called “kid-friendly” foods, like juice and hot dogs.
Here’s a look at ways to focus on nutrient-rich foods at every age to ensure your child’s long-term health:
You can best meet your baby’s nutritional needs by breastfeeding. If this isn’t possible, be sure to choose a high-quality baby formula. You should keep breastfeeding or providing baby formula through your baby’s first birthday.
Around six months, you can introduce solid foods to your baby’s diet, such as iron-fortified cereals, cooked veggies (like potatoes, green beans, and carrots), and smashed or pureed fruits (like bananas or avocados).
By around nine months, most babies can eat dry cereals, crackers, and well-mashed table foods, like cooked beans, lentils and other legumes, cooked whole grains, and small pieces of vegetables and fruits.
Be sure to offer your young child a wide variety of healthy, nutrient-rich whole foods, like fresh and cooked vegetables, whole grains (e.g., brown rice, quinoa), lean proteins, and healthy, whole fats (e.g., avocados and unsalted nuts).
Since your child is growing fast, be sure to focus on offering calcium-rich foods to support bone health, such as:
You can also offer foods and drinks that have added calcium. These fortified foods include dry cereals, flours, some orange juices, and milks.
You’ll also want to provide plenty of lean proteins and avoid sugary beverages and processed foods, like chips and packaged snacks, fast food meals, candy, and other high-sugar, high-fat foods.
As your child gets older, they’ll naturally make more of their own decisions about the foods they eat. For this reason, it’s important to provide them with reliable information about nutrition and support their health by having healthy snack and meal options available.
Including your adolescent or teen in shopping and meal preparation can be a great way to help them learn the value of nutrient-rich foods, like fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Keep in mind that kids this age still need a diet high in calcium-rich foods, and young girls who menstruate should be sure to include iron-rich foods or, if their pediatrician recommends it, take an iron supplement.
Because children’s nutritional needs change as they grow, it’s important to understand how the foods your child eats impacts their growth, brain development, energy levels, weight, and overall health.
Get the nutritional support you and your child need by meeting with an expert at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics. Your provider reviews your child’s health history, current weight, relevant lifestyle factors, and any specific concerns you have to offer personalized nutrition advice for optimal health.
Get personalized nutrition advice for your child by scheduling an appointment online or over at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics nearest you.