When it comes to feeding my children, I always wonder about the things I’m putting in their bodies; am I giving them too much milk? Not enough protein? White bread versus wheat bread…it’s all so much to worry about!
Here are some facts about children’s nutrition that can help you make sure you are feeding your kids a well balanced diet.
Kids Need Iron
Very young children have a great risk of iron deficiency than older children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies show that 9% of toddlers between 1 and 2 are deficient in iron, while only 3% of kids 3 to 5 are, and about 2% of 6 to 11-year-olds are.
But, kids do not need to eat all kinds of red meat to get enough iron. Kids can get iron from others sources – by eating fortified cereals, multi-grain breads, dried fruits (like raisins), spinach, molasses, beans, lentils, eggs, certain fish, and the dark meat of poultry all contain lots of iron.
How much iron should your children be getting? Kids under 10 should get at least ten milligrams of iron daily. That is as easy as giving them one cup of Cheerios (eight milligrams) and two small boxes of raisins (two milligrams)!
Fruits Instead of Veggies is Okay
My son will eat veggies, my twin girls will not. They all definitely prefer fruit over veggies, and that is okay. Fruits are comparable in vitamin and fiber content to veggies.
If you child won’t eat carrots (Vitamin A): offer apricots and cantaloupe instead.
If you child won’t eat spinach (Folic Acid): offer strawberries or oranges instead.
If you child won’t eat potatoes (Potassium): bananas are a good alternative
This doesn’t mean to stop trying to get them to eat veggies! Continue to offer them with every meal.
Calcium is Important, But Doesn’t Only Come From Milk
It’s absolutely true that milk is one of the best sources of calcium, but kids still get enough of it from other foods like yogurt, cheese, calcium-fortified soy milk, broccoli, tofu, dark, leafy greens, and calcium-fortified, 100 percent juice (such as orange).
Kids 1 to 3 need 500 milligrams of calcium a day, ages 4- to 8-year-olds need 800 milligrams, and kids 9 or older need 1,300 milligrams to keep bones growing and strong.
Juice Should Be A Treat, NOT a Staple
I’m not saying to never give your children juice, but I am saying to definitely limit juice intake. Juice seems to decrease kids appetites for more nutritious foods, and if you give it to them all day everyday, it’s nearly impossible to get them to drink any water.
Not to mention that the high sugar content of juice can harm teeth or cause stomach upset, especially if the juice isn’t diluted. Nutritionists say a toddler shouldn’t have more than about 4 to 6 ounces a day, and that juice should be offered as a treat. And remember that you want to look for 100% juice with no artificial flavors or colors.
White Bread is Not the Devil!
Yes, whole-wheat bread is always the ideal choice to give your kids according to doctors, pediatricians, and nutritionists. Its contains high fiber content which helps prevent constipation, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Enriched white bread does have some benefits: it’s enriched with iron and B vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin, and riboflavin. Kids can get fiber from other sources (like fruits) if they prefer white bread.
What nutrition tips to you always consider when feeding your children?