Health and well being in under Fives

Getting nutrition right for babies and toddlers gives them the best start for the rest of their lives and is vital for good health.

What vitamins do young children need.

Eating a well balanced and varied diet containing all the food groups is sometimes not enough to make sure some important vitamins are getting into your child. Lets look at these

Vitamin D

This is essential as it absorbs calcium into the body and helps to ensure chil-dren have strong bones . This vitamin is made in the skin, as we often in the UK do not get enough sunlight and when we do, use sunscreen it is easy to be deficient in this vit-amin . The Department of Health recommends breastfed babies have a daily supple-ment from birth and children aged 1-4 have a daily supplement. Vitamin D can be found in foods such as whole milk, eggs, oily fish and is often added to breakfast cereals. Do not give cod liver oil and vitamin supplements as cod liver oil contains enough vitamins D and A.

Vitamin A

This ensures normal growth and development, strengthens the immune sys-tem and is good for eyes, improving night vision. remember when your mum said eat your carrots and you will see in the dark! Foods containing vitamin A include red and orange vegetables and fruits, green leafy vegetables and oily fish.

Vitamin A supplement is recommended for young children.

Vitamin C

This antioxidant strengthens the immune system and aids healing wounds it also helps the absorption of iron from non meat sources. Foods sources are fruit and vegetables, with the most containing are tomatoes, peppers, citrus fruits and kiwi fruit. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin C.

Childhood obesity

Almost 1 in 3 children in England are overweight or obese by the age of 11. This means they can grow up with dangerous amounts of fat in their bodies, develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancers later in life.

What can we do about this:

  • If children observe their parents having an active and healthy lifestyle they can learn by this.
  • Be active everyday, get children outside to play and run.
  • Have a well balanced varied diet.
  • Limit sugar and salt.
  • Look at food labels for sugar and fat content.
  • Do not use food as rewards or bribes.
  • Do not encourage ‘grazing’ throughout the day.
  • Use mealtimes as social occasions, talk about the food and where it comes from.
  • Grow more of your own foods.

Dental health

Foods containing calcium, such as milk and cheese are important for the development of healthy and strong teeth.

Healthy baby teeth are just as important as your grown up teeth as they play a part in speech patterns, are essential for chewing and are space holding for the developing adult permanent teeth.

Poor feeding practices are the major cause of tooth decay, this includes bottle feeding for longer than necessary; babies should not be reliant on bottles and should use a cup by the time they are 12 months. Beware of your child going to sleep using a bottle.

Look at food labels for hidden sugars, remembering fruit juices, dried fruit, honey and glucose are potentially harmful to teeth.

Giving water to drink is best, especially in-between meals.

Encourage teeth cleaning at an early age, also visiting your dentist.

Remember that young children will need help to clean.

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