Children: Nutrition and Environmental Design

This article reviews easy tips for a healthy child's diet as well as the importance of environmental design in their surroundings.

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Encouraging your baby or young child to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day can foster a lifetime of healthful eating. Include a wide variety of flavors, colors, shapes, and textures to make eating fun as well as nutritious.

Achieving the 'Five A Day' Goal

  • Convenience is the key. Baby food in a jar is easy, portable, nutritious and safe and comes in appropriate portion sizes. For older children small portions and easy bite size pieces are appropriate.
  • Food prepared at home as well as baby food in a jar may help older babies and toddlers to develop self-feeding and small motor skills.
  • Offer favorites like bananas or carrots, and encourage kids to keep eating these while trying new choices such as the meats or carbohydrates you'll introduce later on.
  • Be creative. You can design a forest using cooked broccoli tops or put strained peaches or mashed bananas on toast! Find fun ways of presenting healthy food.
  • Try to stay away from foods that have a high sugar content. It can cause many health problems such as obesity and tooth decay, not to mention the dreaded 'sugar rush'.
  • Check with your child's pediatrician to determine specific guidelines for your child.
  • Be a good role model. Pay attention to your own diet and set a good example

Environmental Safety

Create an environment for your infant of toddler that promotes safety and health:

  • Safety: Cover all electrical outlets, get rid of slippery surfaces (tape down rugs and mats, be sure your toddler is barefoot or wearing shoes - socks are slippery on smooth floors!), provide furniture that doesn't have sharp edges and is in good condition, remove lids from storages boxes to prevent accidents, keep all machines and cleaning materials well out of your children's reach.
  • Health: Provide good light and comfortable, consistent air temperature. Wash your hands often, vacuum and wash rugs and mats regularly. Diaper your baby correctly to prevent the spread of germs. Be sure your kid's get their immunizations. Teach them sound hygiene with regular baths, and start cleaning their teeth as soon as your dentist says it time!

Children always need to be playing. Give them an environment that promotes safety but rewards and encourages curiosity.

  • Keep their play space separate form care-giving areas.
  • Make sure everything in the play space is touchable.
  • Provide for both fine and gross motor activity with a variety of age-appropriate sizes.
  • Provide both hard and soft materials and play surfaces.
  • Give your child room to find new ways of combining toys and materials.
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