Baby & Toddler
Feeding young children: what are the choices?
It is imperative to ensure that a young child is well hydrated with at least 800ml of fluid daily. Water should be the main drink and milk is the next preference. If fruit juices or sweetened drinks/milk Sare given these should only be offered at the main mealtimes. This reduces the chances of tooth decay and helps to discourage developing a preference for sweet drinks. For the same reason, after the age of 12months milk should be offered from a cup/beaker and not from a bottle.
Overweight and obesity
Malta has the highest rate of childhood obesity in children with more than 1 in 4 of all 2-4year olds estimated to be overweight or obese. Such children are more likely to suffer from emotional and psychological problems and tend to grow up to become overweight or obese adults which can lead to very serious health problems like type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
It is recommended that physical activity should be encouraged at an early age since being active on a daily basis improves children’s bone health, develops movement and coordination and contributes to a healthy weight. Screen time ( TV, iPads, smart phones) should be limited and physical activity encouraged to take up as much as 3 hours per day.
Sometimes it is difficult to recognize that a child is overweight so it is very important to consult regularly with your doctor who will able to assist you with your concerns about your child’s diet and activity levels.
Regular annual visits to a dentist are also very highly recommended from this young age and it is a must to supervise brushing of teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.
It is also recommended that children under the age of 5 should take a daily supplement of Vitamins A, C and D in the form of drops/syrup – ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
It might sound obvious but, the key to overcoming fussy eating is to help your child learn to like the foods you offer because children will eat more of the foods they enjoy. Children are born with very few likes and dislikes – they acquire these through experience.
Aim to create a healthy home environment that is conducive to healthy eating. Stock up on a wide variety of healthy foods and try to avoid having foods high in fats and sugars on display or within easy reach.
‘Model’ behaviour from parents has been shown to be an effective way to encourage children to accept new foods so lead by example and eat the foods that you would like your child to eat 😊
By Ms.M Gatt