Parents have faced many challenges during this global pandemic. Empty store shelves, children always at home, and possibly a tight grocery budget. The frustration around preparing food at home or trying to find the right types of foods or even coping with budget concerns have challenged the best of us. You strive to provide your child with the right foods, but they can still sometimes fall short of enough nutrients.
So, how can you ensure your child receives optimal nutrition? Step one: Learn which nutrients to focus on. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children don’t get enough of these four key nutrients in their diets.
Calcium is well-known for its critical role in bone and teeth development in younger years. This mineral is also needed by the body for muscle contraction, nerve signaling and blood clotting.
Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are top calcium sources. But, what if your kid can't tolerate dairy? Children who follow a milk-free diet can still get a lot of calcium from leafy greens, such as broccoli, kale and bok choy, or foods like almonds or edamame. Additionally, some foods and drinks are often fortified with calcium, such as orange juice, soy milk, tofu and cereal.
Dubbed the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is the only nutrient that our bodies can make from sunlight. In addition to working hand in hand with calcium to build healthy and strong bones, vitamin D also has a role in immune support for kids.
Vitamin D is found in very few foods especially ones that children enjoy eating on a regular basis. Technically, we can make our own supply by soaking up the sun. However, it's rare for children to synthesize enough vitamin D for optimal health unless they spend time outside every day with available sunlight. That's why it's important to include vitamin D sources in your child's diet when you can. Fatty fishes such as salmon, tuna, rainbow trout and sardines are excellent sources of this immune-supporting nutrient.
If your child has an aversion to fish, you could give them beverages that are fortified with vitamin D, which can include cow's milk and orange juice. Another good option if your child is behind in growth, is PediaSure Grow & Gain, which contains 30% of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin D per bottle.
Potassium doesn't always get the credit it deserves. This electrolyte is vital for keeping our muscles and nerves healthy. Potassium is also instrumental in maintaining proper fluid balance throughout the body, which promotes healthy blood pressure and allows the kidneys to efficiently remove waste products and toxins. Recent data in the US shows that fewer than 10% of children ages 1 through 5 consume the recommended daily amount of this mineral, even though it's an essential nutrient.
Lots of plant foods contain potassium but in small amounts. To help your child get enough of this electrolyte, you can offer them a variety of fruits, vegetables and beans with meals and as snacks. Avocados, watermelon, sweet and white potatoes, bananas, spinach and dried fruit are some of the best sources of potassium.
Most of us think of digestive health or regularity when we think of fiber. But, fiber also nourishes the gut, which is home to 70% of the immune system as well. Although it sounds like one nutrient, fiber comes in several different kinds with different benefits for all ages.
For optimal health, your child needs a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber in their diet. Top soluble fiber sources include oats, grains, nuts, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, and peas. And, whole grains and vegetables, especially wheat bran, cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are excellent sources of insoluble fiber.
There are various reasons for why your child who is behind in growth may not be eating well or enough of the right foods. When your child is sick, they may not have much of an appetite. Or, perhaps they are going through a phase of kid-independence with selective or picky eating behaviors. Oral nutrition supplements such as PediaSure® may provide your child who is behind on growth with the critical nutrients they need when they aren't getting enough of them through diet alone.
PediaSure provides three of the key nutrients mentioned above: calcium, vitamin D and potassium. It also has high-quality protein and additional vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants that help support your child's immune system, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and zinc. PediaSure comes in an easy-to-drink shake that can also be added to delicious recipes to amplify their nutrition content.
If needed, work with your pediatrician or a registered dietitian to create an eating plan that your child will enjoy and that incorporates key nutrients they may be missing in their diet.
Did you find this content helpful?YES NO
Decoding Your Child's Growth Chart
Pediatricians have several different tools they can use to measure your child's health. One of the most powerful among them is the growth chart. Sometimes, it can be difficult to make sense of all those lines and numbers — if you've felt this before, you're not alone. Here's some valuable insight into how to decode and better understand your child's chart. A Window Into Your Child's Health The growth chart might seem like just another piece of paper, but it's packed with several important insights. On the surface, it can look like these charts are simply about height and weight; however, growth is an indicator of many aspects of your child's health and well-being, such as cognitive development, immunity and nutrition status. One Size Doesn't Fit All The growth chart uses a set of measurements, called percentiles, to compare your child's weight, height and head size (in the case of infants) to those of other children of the same age and sex. The higher the percentile, the larger a child is compared to their peers. Conversely, the lower the percentile, the smaller the child. For example, if your child is in the 75th percentile for height, that means they are taller than 75% of kids their age. Kids of average height for their age based on WHO Child growth standards would measure in the 50th percentile. It's natural to assume bigger is better, but that's not necessarily the case. Many factors influence a child's size, including genetics, diet, and even their environment. Instead of focusing on a specific goal, pediatricians are far more interested in each child's individual growth trend. For instance, a child who has consistently been in the 30th percentile for height or weight might be experiencing perfectly healthy growth; however, if that number were to suddenly drop to the 15th percentile or below, further investigation might make sense. Adding Up the Numbers Because children experience different rates of growth according to their age, there are two basic types of growth charts. The first is designed for newborns and babies up to age 2, while the other is for kids and young adults between the ages of 2 and 20. At every wellness visit, your pediatrician will measure your child's height and weight to keep close tabs on their growth trend. Then, they'll plot these figures on the chart. You don't have to wait until your child's next appointment to learn the results. You can download the same charts they use and plot the results yourself.
Dedication & Resilience: 2020 is The Year of the Parent
2020 is the year of the working parent. In many ways, the impact of COVID-19 forced parents into a new reality. Juggling children, working from home, trying to find childcare and ensuring e-learning has challenged families like never before. And while a global pandemic has pushed working parents' challenges to new heights, something else has bubbled up. Support. Parents are supporting each other. Communities are supporting parents. Businesses are supporting parents. Companies have had to lean into flexibility in order to support parents more than ever before. National Working Parent’s Day This year, Abbott, makers of Similac, support working parents on this day because we know that the demands on them have been extraordinary, and still they’ve persevered and triumphed under very challenging environmental factors and nearly impossible everyday circumstances. Similac created the Promises Project to develop supportive communities that share positivity and help parents stay connected, which is more important than ever. The program communicates common struggles parents take on daily – whether juggling childcare, working from home and homeschooling, or simply feeling judged for decisions we make as parents – the Promises Project reminds all parents to encourage and lift each other up.