Recent evidence provides that the stages of early childhood such as infancy, toddler years and early childhood are the most vital stages in the growth of an individual and in the establishment of health eating and exercise patterns. During these early stages in life children acquire and imbibe several health practices and behaviors. These patterns can help put off the negative effects of obesity and nutrition related diseases and endow a person with optimal growth, cognitive development.
If children do not eat nutritious foods and engage in physical activity in the early stages of their growth, they may show signs of cognitive impairment and may be exposed to the risk of being overweight. They may also be in danger of having established erroneous eating patterns which may lead to a lifetime of insufficient nutrition intake (Boyle and Kavanagh, n. d. ). As compared to adults, small children like infants and toddlers (age’s one through three) need more nutrients on proportion to their body weight because these are the ages of development of bones, muscles, teeth and blood volume.
During these stages, the nutrient intake should be adequate to support the growing process (Herbes, 2004). The role of the parent comes in monitoring and helping develop a healthy eating habit for the children. As infants grow and begin to eat solid food, this intricate process of molding a healthy lifestyle is often influenced by several factors most specifically biological, social, cultural and personal (Lockyear P, 2004). Factors such as physical activity affect children’s growth as well. Children often watch television most of the day which results in development of fatty tissue.
Lack of access to a safe neighborhood is another factor which results in lack of physical activity for a child. Other factors such as the eating habits of other members of the family may greatly influence the child because most of the time, the child eats what the other members of the family eat. As a result of poor eating habits, nutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc and vitamins and minerals are commonly found to be low in children. Iron intake is significant for a child’s growth because it is primarily needed for the development of strong bones and teeth.
Iron is a component of hemoglobin which helps carry oxygen in the blood. Blood volume increases as the child grows therefore the need for iron. Zinc, is another element which is often found lacking in children. Children in their early years have very active interaction with other people thereby the need for zinc. It is important in healing of the wounds, proper sense of taste, proper growth and normal appetite. Vitamins and mineral supplements are also vital in the growth of the child. These are the most famous source of nutrition among parents.
However, parents should be aware that those vitamins do not necessarily fulfill the needs for other nutrient deficiencies. The best method to ensure that the recommended number of servings from each food group in the pyramid is being satisfied is to monitor the children’s meal and intake (Herbes, 2004). The growth and development of every child is a complex process which requires maximum attention from every parent. The needs of every child is different thereby the attention and the nutrient input should be commensurate with that of the child’s needs.
For instance, children with disabilities and those that are called special needs children have more intricate nutrient requirement rather than normal children. There are several ways to take care of a growing child. Parents can increase information awareness by regularly consulting their child’s pediatrician, reading books and attending seminars about nutrition. Parents can also join campus and local groups which cater to child and health programs which strengthen the infrastructures that support healthy lifestyle.
The society and the whole environment all contribute to the growth of a certain individual. Parents must understand first and foremost that the changes being undergone by their children are normal and they must adapt to those changes. In order to adapt to the growing needs of the child, a parent must understand well the different stages of a growing child as well as the needs of the child during those stages. References Boyle, M, Kavanagh C. (n. d. ). The Importance of Nutrition for Health and Disease Prevention in Children Ages 0-6.
Califirnia Food Policy Advocates. Retrieved April 13, 2009 from <http://www. cfpa. net/obesity/0-6paper. pdf> Herbes, K. (2004). Preschoolers and Toddlers, Diet of. Nutrition and Well-Being A to Z, 1st ed. Retrieved April 13, 2009 from <http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_gx5200/is_2004/ai_n19120955/> Lockyear,P ( 2004). Childhood Eating Behaviors: Developmental and Sociocultural Considerations. Medscape Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health. Retrieved April 13, 2009 from <http://www. medscape. com/viewarticle/467523>