As parents, we keep a track of the baby’s height and weight and believe that it is a true indicator of his growth and health. We are contented and happy in the fact that he or she meets or exceeds the average weight and height as per his/her age. But height and weight is just a measure of physical growth in kids. A few days back, I met one of my friends with her 3-year-old in the park. Her kid looked healthy but he was getting tired very easily. I pointed it out to the mother but she brushed off saying,” My son is very healthy. He just loves eating fruits. Moreover, it’s so hot these days. Even adults feel drained out after a round of walk.” A few days later she stopped coming to the park, so I went to her place to enquire about her wellbeing.
It turned out that her son had been diagnosed with iron deficiency because of which he felt tired. I learned an important lesson that day, “Height and weight cannot measure my son’s health. And it is not necessary that a child who loves eating fruits will not have any kind of deficiency.” On consulting the paediatrician, I came to know that in addition to height and weight, we need to keep a check on his diet, activity levels, and visit paediatricians regularly till 5 years of age. Eating just fruits or a particular vegetable will fulfil certain nutritional demands only but will leave a void of others. 2-6 years of age is important for laying the foundation of your kid’s health including immunity and cognitive development.
There are around 38 key nutrients including Certi5 identified by Signutra for cognitive development, natural immunity, physical growth and development, gut health, and bone health in children.
Some of the important ones are as follows:
Proteins are the building structures of a body and it helps in gaining height and weight. Proteins are also critical for the development of the brain and for the growth of the body’s supporting structures like muscle, collagen, hair. Milk, pulses, soy, lentils, egg, fish, curd are rich sources of proteins.
According to USDA, 1-3-year-old needs 13g of protein daily and 4-5-year-old needs 19g daily. A cup of milk has around 8g of protein. So 2 cups of milk can easily fulfill your child’s protein requirements.
Dietary Fiber: Fiber keeps things moving in the digestive tract, thus reducing constipation and improving gut health and immunity. Include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and peas in your kid’s diet as they are rich sources of fiber.
DHA: Docosahexaenoic Acid is essential for eye and brain development, for improving concentration and learning. Till 5 years of age, the human brain increases 3.5 times of its total mass and who doesn’t want their child to be smart and intelligent? Hence it is critically important to include DHA in the diet of kids to support rapid brain growth and development. DHA is naturally found in fatty fish and eggs while ALA is found in Flaxseeds, walnut, and green leafy vegetables. Our body naturally turns ALA into DHA but not very efficiently. So it is advisable to consume DHA directly. But as vegetarians, we don’t get it in naturally occurring form. So I fall back on Groviva which is DHA fortified supplement along with many other essential nutrients.
Probiotics: A healthy gut leads to good health and a strong immune system. Probiotics are mainly good bacteria that maintain intestinal health and immunity. Yogurt and buttermilk are popular probiotics but dietary probiotic supplements are also available in the market.
In addition to these, calcium is essential for bone health and vitamins and micronutrients are essential for building strong immunity. We all understand the importance of home-cooked meals; still because of busy schedules, our choices involve a lot of convenient food that is tasty for the kids too. Many kids don’t like to eat vegetables and hence mothers stuff them in a parantha, grind them in cutlets or mix them in pasta. It is just a way of adding veggies to your kid’s diet but does that amount fulfill your kid’s daily nutritional requirements?
Most probably no! So please try to give a rich nutritious diet to the kids. Remember it takes around 15 attempts to make a picky eater eat something he doesn’t like. So don’t give up. Till your child picks up healthy eating habits, use Groviva in his milk. It has all the 5 signature nutrients (mentioned above) which they call as Certi5 nutrients to bridge the gap in your kid’s nutritional requirements.
This article is written in association with Signutra and was first posted here