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Children's Nutrition

Children's Nutrition

The Department of Nutrition at the Rainbow Children’s Hospital provides nutritional services to children. Through our nutrition health assessment, we can provide the best care to infants and children and optimize the outcomes. The health assessment includes nutritional scoring, eating patterns, evaluation of eating disorders, body composition analysis, diet intake history, and anthropometry. We create therapeutic plans after calculating all the micro and macronutrients.

Rainbow Children’s Hospital has nutrition experts that provide the following services:
- Assessing patients for nutritional risks
- Evaluating the nutritional needs of the child & making suitable recommendations for meeting them
- Making recommendations for feeding the infant include breast milk, tube feeding, or formula feeding.
- Managing children receiving parenteral nutrition
- Providing education & diet instructions to the parents

Through these services, we can treat the most common conditions in children:
- General nutrition
- Constipation
- Tube feeding assessments
- Food allergies and intolerance
- Poor weight gain or malnutrition
- Picky eating

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What are the nutritional needs of a baby?

When it comes to babies, all their nutrition comes from milk. This milk can be breastmilk, formula, or both. For the first few years of life, milk will be providing almost every nutrient required by the baby’s body.

When babies are between 6 and 9 months, breast milk will not be providing sufficient zinc and iron. Now, babies are ready to start eating solid foods like strained vegetables, fruits, pureed meats, and iron-fortified infant cereal. If your baby is breastfed, meats and fortified cereals can help them a lot.

Once you start adding solid foods to your child’s diet, you won’t have to go low-fat crazy. There are some fat restrictions for babies in general, but you don’t have to follow it strictly until they reach 2 because they need an appropriate amount of fat for the brain and nerve development.

What are the nutritional needs of toddlers and preschoolers?

Toddlers and preschoolers have growth spurts. Even their appetite goes and comes in spurts. So, they might be eating nothing one day and a whole lot on the next. It is very normal and as long as they are eating healthy, they will get all the required nutrients.

To develop healthy and strong teeth and bones, your child needs calcium, the building block of the body. The best source of calcium is milk. For children who are lactose-intolerant, milk-allergic or just don’t like to drink milk, there are some alternatives available. These include soy milk, lactose-free milk, sardines, tofu, calcium-fortified cereals, orange juice, oatmeal, and waffles. In some cases, calcium supplements might be recommended by the pediatrician.

Another important factor is fiber. Most of the kids and toddlers want to eat a beige, bland, and starchy diet containing fries, macaroni, and chicken nuggets. But it is very important at this age to get them to eat vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains, which are all great sources of fiber. Fiber helps in preventing conditions like constipation and heart diseases and also improves digestion.

What are the nutritional needs of a grade-schooler?

It is very common for a grade-schooler to become a vegetarian. This is because, at this age, they start understanding where food comes from and animals. However, you don’t have to worry about protein intake for your child. There are some other great sources of protein like rice, beans, milk, eggs, and peanut butter. You also need to restrict the intake of sodium, fats, and sugars.

Now that your child has started going to school they will have so many choices. Snacks like chips, candy, and cake can end up becoming lunchtime staples. And even though their body needs sugars, sodium, and fats, they should eat it in moderation. Too much of these can lead to health problems and unwanted weight gain. To help them keep their health on track, you need to give your child healthier choices. Make sure that you pack their lunch so that they don’t have to eat at the cafeteria.

What are the nutritional needs of preteens and teens?

When your child starts going through puberty, he/she will need more calories for supporting all the changes that they are experiencing. Unfortunately, most of the preteens and teens get these extra calories from junk and fast foods that have little to no nutritional value.

However, some kids start getting conscious of their body image and weight and restrict any fats, carbs, and calories. This can result in unhealthy behaviors and eating disorders. It is the responsibility of the parents to keep an eye on their eating patterns. Family dinners should be encouraged.

At this age, the calcium requirement of the body is also high. It is even more important than before because, during this time, the majority of the bone mass is built. You need to encourage your child to have more milk, milk products or calcium alternatives that will help them in getting more calcium.

Your child’s need for a particular nutrient will also depend on their gender. For example, teen girls who are menstruating will need more iron than teen boys their age. This is because they need to make up for blood loss during periods. Also, boys will need more protein than girls.

Making your child eat healthy at any age can be challenging. But with your support and guidance, your child can have a well-rounded, healthy body.

How important is water?

Water covers more than half of your child’s body weight. It is also required for keeping all body parts function properly. There is no specific recommended amount that a child needs. So, you need to make sure that they are drinking water throughout the day, even when they are not feeling thirsty. Babies don’t need water for the most part of their first year of life. After this, these need changes. If your child doesn’t like drinking water, you can add a bit of lime or lemon to give it a flavor. You can also make them eat a lot of veggies and fruits as they are great water sources. When they are engaged in physical activities or when it is hot outside, it is even more important for the kids to drink water; or else they will get sick.