Healthy Food Helps Children Learn and Grow

What can you do to help your baby grow and learn? One of the best ways is to serve healthy foods. Children’s maturing bodies and minds need healthy foods.

Here are three important things to know about feeding your baby now and in the future when she’s older:

1. Babies need fat. Fat helps a baby’s brain to grow and develop. Breast milk and properly mixed formula both contain adequate amounts of fat for infants.

Toddlers also need fat. Most children ages 1 to 2 should drink whole milk. However, reduced-fat milk is recommended for some children, including those for whom obesity may be a concern. After age 2, most children should transition to low fat milk and a diet lower in fat.

2. All children need breakfast. Children who eat breakfast have more energy than children who don’t eat breakfast. In school, they pay attention and solve problems better. Your children might like these quick and easy breakfasts:

  • Instant oatmeal with fruit

  • Toast with peanut butter

  • Fruit-filled breakfast bars

For children who do not like traditional breakfast food, try leftovers like whole wheat spaghetti, chicken, or pizza. Give your children a glass of milk or juice with their breakfast, too.

3. Iron and vitamin C work together. Many children, especially teens, do not get enough iron. This could make it hard for them to learn. Make sure your children get enough iron. Foods that have a lot of iron are:

  • Meat, fish, and turkey

  • Chickpeas and black beans

  • Eggs

  • Whole-grain breads and cereals

You should give your children foods with iron and foods with vitamin C at the same meal. Vitamin C helps the body use iron. Foods that have a lot of vitamin C are:

  • Oranges

  • Grapefruit

  • Broccoli

  • Cauliflower

  • Tomatoes

  • Potatoes

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Jovino, DO

Date Last Reviewed: 4/6/2010

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