The fact of the matter is what you feed your growing child is detrimental to their growth and development. This is a critical stage of growth between the ages of three to five years. Different nutrients have essential roles in providing energy, acting as building blocks for growth and repair, and regulating chemical processes.
A well-balanced diet has many more benefits than just maintaining good weight gain at an early age; also, it helps in providing sufficient recovery from injury and illness, maintaining well-being, and strengthening the immune system. In terms of brain development, nutrients such as iron, protein, iodine, folate, vitamin A, and choline all are critical nutrients in a developing brain. It is proven in research that brain development is the most sensitive to an infant’s nutrition between mid-gestation and two years of age. At this stage, breast milk often than not provides all the essential nutrients a newborn will need. In terms of emotional health, there is a huge misconception that nutrition does not affect emotional health when it does! Vitamins such as B6, folate, and choline are critical in synthesizing neurotransmitters which regulate memory and mood. Deficiency in these nutrients can eventually cause depression and anxiety disorders. An increase in fish and legumes and a decrease in junk food will do the trick. Regarding physical health, healthy eating patterns will beat malnutrition as a whole. Malnutrition at an early age can cause a lack of energy resulting in a decrease in interest in learning new things, socializing with others, and getting outside. All hindering cognitive development. Apart from undereating, obesity is also a form of malnutrition. Overeating can cause a lack of confidence during physical activity amongst peers which can lead to major insecurities.
Overall, parents are the key to their children’s eating habits at a young age, and providing a varied and healthy choice of food groups can not only improve mental health, but physical health, brain development, and malnutrition. It is critical we keep kiddos up on their feet and feel confident to be successful starting at an early age.