6 Questions and Answers About Child Nutrition
What should children eat? How much milk should they drink? These are some of the common questions about child nutrition that we'll answer in this article.
Many concerns can arise about what our children should eat, since it’s important to take care of their health from a young age. That way, they can enjoy good health and avoid illnesses. Therefore, in the article below, we’ll clarify a series of questions and answers about child nutrition.
Questions and answers about child nutrition
How long should exclusive breastfeeding last?
If you’re pregnant and you’re going to have your baby soon, you should know that experts recommend breastfeeding exclusively during the first 6 months of life. And, from then on, you should gradually add different foods while also maintaining on-demand breastfeeding for as long as you and your child wish.
It’s important that the introduction of food not occur until the sixth month. This guarantees that the child’s body reaches the necessary maturation on a neurological, gastrointestinal and immunological level.
When to introduce potentially allergenic foods? One of the most important questions about child nutrition
Currently, studies have found that introducing foods that may be allergenic beyond 6 months doesn’t prevent allergies to these foods. For children with special allergenic potential (if the parents are allergic), it’s best to consult previously with a medical allergist.
On the other hand, with respect to gluten, experts are unsure about the best way to introduce gluten in order to reduce the risk of celiac disease. Currently, they recommend introducing it between 4 and 11 months of age.
What should a child eat?
Rather than worrying about how much a child should eat, we should be concerned about the quality of the food they eat. We can follow the Harvard healthy eating plate, as follows:
- Half of the plate should consist of vegetables and fruits.
- One-quarter of the plate should be animal or vegetable protein, which includes eggs, dairy, meat, fish, and legumes.
- The remaining quarter should include whole grains (rice, pasta, bread, etc).
At the same time, we should avoid red meats and sausages, pastries, and sweetened products, ultra-processed foods, and refined grains. These foods could put children at greater risk of being overweight or obese and of developing metabolic diseases.
More questions and answers on child nutrition
What do I do if my child doesn’t like healthy food?
- It’s important that your child start eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish at an early age. That’s because the earlier you introduce them, the more likely they are to accept them.
- Let the child try the food several times and don’t give up if they don’t like it the first time.
- Make the dishes attractive, with shapes and drawings, so that the child eats them.
- Try different cooking methods and textures to find out which ones they like best.
Never substitute healthy food that your child doesn’t like with unhealthy food. If you do, they’ll only want to eat this type of food and won’t get the nourishment they need.
Should we force the child to eat?
No. You should never force a child to eat or finish a meal if they’re not hungry. It’s normal for children to have times when they don’t want to eat, just like adults. If it happens from time to time, don’t be alarmed as long as your child’s weight and height are right for their age. However, if this is already happening frequently, you should see a professional.
How much milk does a child have to drink?
Breast milk is the best food we can give our children. But, after 12 months, they should no longer consume as much breast milk as you may think. Between 1 and 3 years of age, a child needs 600 mg of calcium, which is equivalent to two glasses of milk. These requirements increase with age.
Dairy is one of the biggest sources of calcium. However, it’s not necessarily true that the more dairy children drink, the more they’ll grow, as this study shows.
In addition, it’s important for children to drink whole and natural dairy products because they have all the vitamins and minerals and don’t lead to sugar addiction.