School going children, specially of ages of 6 to 10 years are characterized by their growth. Although children continue to grow all the time, the difference in this period of their lives is that the growth now is more frequent, both in terms of height and weight. Proper nutrition during this time is essential for raising healthy kids. As a parent, you have an important role in this by explaining to your child the consequences of unhealthy food on their present as well as future.
Is Your Child Growing Well Enough?
It is true that every child is unique and has individual needs. Growth charts can used are guidelines but are rarely fully applicable to an individual. Because of the tissue structure and the motor activities, the energy and protein requirements are substantially higher in kids of the ages 6 to 10 years. Because the children often are very active during this age, there is an increased need for extra nutrients. Lack of proper nutrition can lead to a visible stunting in growth – both weight as well as height. It also, consequently, leads to slackening in studies and other activities. More than growth charts, your child’s energy levels, stamina and behavior will intimate the lack of growth.
It is a good idea to know the nutritional requirements of your child. On average, the protein requirement in a body is of between 1 and 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight. The energy is located between 2000-2300 kcal per day. The need for vitamins and minerals is also increased, with special attention to calcium, iron, vitamins A, D, B1 and focus on essential fatty acids.
Too much sugary and fatty snacks like candy and cake, will always be at the expense of eating healthy snacks and therefore of the essential nutrients. Sugary foods lead to an increasing demand for carbohydrate-rich foods causing kids to feel peckish all day. Protein and high-fat diet provides a strong saturation.
Underweight is Not Good
It is noted that many Indian parents, although sensitive to the issue of height, do not give importance to weight. By blindly following the ‘slim is beautiful’ trend, many parents are unknowingly encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle in kids. Although many children are slim in a healthy way, children who are significantly underweight are at risk of health problems. These include delays in physical development, such as puberty, lower immunity and less energy.
However, if your child has a lower BMI and is eating well, it could simply be his or her body type. If your child has always been slim and is happy and active, there is no need for any concern.
Proper Nutrition for Catching Up on Height and Weight
If you feel that your child is considerably shorter than his or her counterparts, or if your pediatrician has suggested that your child needs to gain weight, there is plenty you can do. You can catch up on the lost growth of height and weight in children by providing the right amount of calories and nutrients and by stimulating the appetite and muscle building.
- Count Calories: Find out how many calories your child needs for her height, weight and activity level. Then take note of what they eat for a week. If you find that the average daily calorie intake of children is lower than the recommended amount, to take steps to raise healthy calories in her diet.
- Serve a balanced diet: A balanced diet will help your child enjoy good health. Make sure you have all the essential nutrients in your child’s meal plan your child. Also, encourage your child to have fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis.
- Add Protein to Your Child’s Diet: Make sure you add plenty of protein-rich foods in the diet of your child. In addition to them, try to include nutritional supplements like Protinules, Complan etc. and snacks like a mixture of nuts.
- Encourage Muscle Building Activities: Healthy weight gain requires the gain of muscle, and muscles need exercise to grow. Muscle building activities for children, such as climbing and swimming help with height and weight gain.
- Ensure Adequate Sleep: Poor sleep may also interfere with the ability of a child to gain weight and height. Make sure your child gets enough sleep and has a regular bedtime and wake-up time. Emotional and psychological problems, such as stress and anorexia nervosa, can also lead to weight loss. Consult your pediatrician if you suspect emotional problems.
Enlighten your child on the effects of being under-weight and under-height. This will encourage your child to follow the above tips. Do not hesitate in talking to your pediatrician about height gain and growth at regular visits.