Young children aged 1 to 4 needs more energy to grow and develop. It is important to ensure children at this age are given a nutritionally balanced diet to ensure healthy growth and development. A healthy diet will help your child develop a healthy body and also protect against illness. A healthy diet must contain a variety of foods from the following food groups.
Every meal should contain a portion of one starchy food such as bread, rice, pasta or cereals. Children have smaller tummies and shouldn't eat too much of fibre rich carbohydrates as they may fill up too quickly before they have taken all the calories they need.
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Different fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients. Giving your child a variety of fruits and vegetables helps ensure they get all the nutrients. Include up to five portions of fruit and vegetable in the daily diet.
Milk and diary products such as cheese and yoghurt provide calcium which is essential for healthy teeth and bones. Children get 70% of the calcium from milk, 20% from dairy products and remaining 10% from other sources. You should give your child at least 375ml of milk per day. Drinking large amounts of milk may stop them from eating other foods and results in nutritional deficiency.
* Un- pasteurised milk should be avoided.
Meat, fish, eggs and pulses like lentils and beans are major source of protein and minerals such as iron. Protein helps the growth of your child. Give your child these foods once or twice a day.
* Fish such as shark, swordfish and marlin which contain high levels of mercury should be avoided.
* Eggs should be fully cooked.
Fat is essential for proper development of children's brain however too much could contribute to obesity. Sugary foods should be limited as they lead to tooth decay and obesity. Too much salt on your child's diet is harmful. The maximum amount of salt per day for children between ages 1 to 3 is 2g and for ages 4 to 6 is 3g.