As parents, all we want for our children is to see them grow & thrive. A crucial component of this is ensuring they are receiving proper nutrition. Nutritional deficiencies in children can have a significant impact on physical and cognitive development. Some typical signs are, fussy eating, behavioral issues, sleep issues, immune deficiency, or delayed learning.
To help your little one stay healthy and happy, here are our favourite tips on avoiding nutritional deficiencies.
Medicine always starts with food. Providing your child with a balanced diet is a great way to ensure they reach their nutritional targets. Include all the following in each meal, daily
- Fruits and vegetables - provide essential nutrients & fibre. Aim to make each as colourful as possible to give all nutrients.
- Protein!! Protein is the building block to most functions in the body. Include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and legumes in your little one's diet.
- Dairy - if well tolerated include good sources of dairy such as organic milk, butter, and natural yoghurts, as they are rich in calcium
- Whole grains - source good quality wheat, brown rice and oats are an excellent source of fibre and other essential nutrients.
- Vitamin D is an important nutrient for children as it is needed for absorption of calcium, and phosphorus, nutrients that are essential for strong bones & teeth. Ensure your little ones get lots of sunshine daily, as well as fortified foods.
- Iron is crucial for healthy blood, energy, sleep, cognitive function and overall development. A great way to help absorption for children is to include animal-based foods rich in iron such as lean meats, poultry, and fish, alongside plant sources rich in iron leafy greens, beans and lentils. Pair these foods with vitamin C-rich nutrients to help with overall iron absorption.
- Probiotic-rich foods are beneficial for children as they support a healthy gut microbiome, overall digestion and immune function. Foods such as natural yoghurts, kefir drinks, sauerkraut, kimchi and some types of cheese.
Omega rich foods
- Foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds, fish and olive oils are helpful for children’s health as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain development, cognitive function, digestive health and immune health.
- Usually overlooked but hydration is very crucial for children's health, including digestion, circulation, and cognitive function. Ensure your child is meeting their hydration needs, we also recommend swapping to filtered drinking water.
- When it comes to your child’s nutrition status it is best to check in with your health care provider rather than assuming. This can help you get on top of suspected nutritional deficiencies early.
Be a role model
- Children will learn by example. Making nutritious choices in your diet will help you to encourage these same choices for your little one. Encourage family meals and involve your child in the planning and cooking.
Implementing these daily nutritional habits and lifestyle changes will go a long way in preventing nutritional deficiencies in your child. If you need extra support, please reach out to us and book a children’s consultation to get more specific guidance for your child.