The Importance of Nutrition in Early Childhood Development


From: Novak Djokovic Foundation

Why is food and nutrition so important for children?

Ever wonder why some children eat everything and others turn away from some foods?

Children can be picky eaters. For many parents, picturing a toddler stubbornly throwing a piece of broccoli to the floor in disgust is easy – after all, it’s an all too familiar scene. However tiring it might be, it’s important that you find ways to convince your child to eat that piece of broccoli, as studies show that having a balanced and nutritious diet directly impacts all aspects of a child’s growth and development.

Why is Nutrition so Important for Children?

The relationship between nutrition, health and learning is undeniably strong: nutrition is one of the three major factors that impact a child’s development. As genes and environment are the other two factors, eating a certain food cannot guarantee that your child will be smarter, although my mother did successfully teach (trick?) me to eat fish when I was little for that very reason. Nevertheless, research studies show that nutrition in a child’s early years is linked to their health and academic performance in later years.

However you might personally define it, “a child’s early years” begin before birth when it comes to nutrition. Under-nutrition during pregnancy stunts foetal growth and can lead to poor brain development that result in irreversible chronic illnesses. Under-nutrition of a breastfeeding mother will likewise negatively impact a child’s development, especially in the first 6 months when breast milk is all he/she is consuming. For all soon-to-be and new mothers, it’s worth making sure you’re consuming a healthy and balanced diet full of the vital nutrients that both you and your child need: carbohydrates, protein, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and D. Although at first glance this list seems overbearing, realistically you probably consume most of these nutrients already – it’s just about following proportions, which the eatwell plate helps to illustrate.

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