Looking back, I realize that the first year of parenting was the easiest because I never had to bother about the nutrition for my baby. In fact, till 2 years of age breastfeeding was fulfilling all the nutritional requirements. Post 2 years, the only thing I was doing was calculating how much my fussy eater had in a day. His weight was my biggest concern and many people recommended health drinks as a supplement. But with the plethora of options available in the market, it was tough to make a choice. So I have listed a few ingredients and their uses, which you must look out for while choosing a health drink for your kid.
All mothers feed their kids with 3 major aims:
- Increase In weight and height
- Build a good immune system
- Develop a sharp brain
The nutrients are categorized in these 3 broad categories which are as follows:
Growth Nutrients: Height and weight are considered to be the basic parameters for a healthy kid. Every pediatrician primarily checks height and weight to assess any underlying health condition too. Few nutrients essential for good growth in kids are:
1.Proteins: Proteins are the building structures of a body and it helps in gaining height and weight.
2.Carbohydrates: They are the main source of energy in the body and are essential for growth too.
3.Calcium, Vitamin D, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin K: These are mainly responsible for bone development and strength.
Immunity Nutrients: Frequent sickness in kids is one of the biggest concerns for parents these days. It is impossible to isolate the kids from germs and viruses at schools, playgrounds and even home. Hence, we should try to enhance immunity in kids so that they can fight infections effectively. Following nutrients aid in the development of strong immunity:
1.Vitamin C, E, and Zinc: These are antioxidants that fight the free radicals. The common cold is one of the biggest troubles for young kids. And it is proven that adequate consumption of Vitamin C, E, and Zinc shortens the duration of the common cold and reduces the incidence of infection in kids.
2. Probiotics: A healthy gut leads to good health and a strong immune system. Probiotics are mainly good bacteria that maintain intestinal health and immunity.
3.Copper: It is an essential nutrient for the body. Its deficiency can lead to reduced white blood cells which are responsible for fighting infection.
Neuro Nutrients: Many believe that brain development is determined more by genetic factors than anything else. But there is a strong connection between good nutrition and brain development. The food we eat influences our concentration, memory, comprehension, intellect, judgment, and emotions. Following nutrients are essential for the good development of the nervous system and brain:
- Iron: Iron is an important component of Haemoglobin which supplies oxygen to the brain and helps in its optimal development and function.
- Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iodine, Choline & Taurine: Vitamin B12 is essential for the development of brain structure and function. Folic acid is included in the diet of the mother during pregnancy, for proper brain development of the fetus. Iodine, Choline and Taurine also aid in brain development.
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): It is essential for eye and brain development and 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. As vegetarians, we don’t get it in naturally occurring form. So I fall back on Pediasure for my son’s essential nutrient requirements.
Next time you purchase a health drink for your kid, make sure you flip over and check the ingredients that are essential for your kid, which is otherwise not fulfilled by other food intakes. Pediasure is the No. 1 toddler health drink, with 37 nutrients and high-quality proteins that help in bone development, leading to a visible growth in 90 days.
This article is written in association with Pediasure and was first published here.