A growing child’s dietary needs should be revisited every few years as they go through their growth spurts. Read on to see if your kids are getting their required nourishment.
Most parents are familiar with the term growth spurt in early childhood. But did you know that adolescent boys and girls go through a second growth spurt? Yes! Girls tend to show this between 8 and 13 years of age while boys show a sudden spurt between 10 and 15 years of age.
The question is, parents, what are you doing about it? Are you ensuring that your child gets the requisite amount of protein at this stage? Height and weight show a drastic change around the time of puberty and you need to be prepared to tackle the child’s physical dietary requirements.
Moms know the need for a balanced diet with all the nutrients necessary, especially protein, since kids tend to get more physically active at this time. There are very few products on the market that ensure 2X protein as per recommended dietary allowance (Recommended Dietary Allowance) during pre-adolescence as compared to their childhood years (4 to 6 years). It’s important to take a careful look at the labels next time you go shopping.
I confess, of late, every wellness visit to the pediatrician is marked with a slight apprehension of seeing the child climb up the mandatory milestone and growth chart. As time passed by and the toddler years morphed into school years, we settled into a comfort zone, the niggling health worries now fairly swept away.
The chubby fat had given way to firmer muscles, although I felt my child now looked far leaner than ever before. I wondered if he was getting enough nutrition and his diet was on par with his needs? I decided to schedule a visit to our family doctor to get my doubts clarified. What our doctor revealed was an eye-opener for me in many ways and I was glad to have made this visit in time.
4 Reasons why parents must pay extra attention to their children’s diet
1. Children undergo two stages of growth spurts
I was keyed into my son’s dietary intake during the first stage (usually between 0 – 24 months of age) of growth spurt (a phase where the child seems to undergo frequent hunger pangs, puts on weight rapidly, and /or sleeps for a longer period). However the pediatrician explained that I needed to be prepared even before the advent of the second growth spurt during which a child attains his/her optimum weight and height. With a packed schedule that includes sports, school, extra-curricular activities, kids need extra nourishment to prepare the body for the imminent leap in height and weight.
2. Importance of Protein in the diet
Proteins play a crucial role in ensuring that the bones develop well and the body reaches the optimum bone mass. The absence of the required protein intake leads to malnutrition or reduced insulin-like growth factor 1 (GIF 1). As per the doctor, kids suffer from insufficient dietary conditions, especially around the adolescent years. They need vital nutrients like protein, calcium and iron as part of the RDA. Good sources of protein include milk, milk products, eggs, soy and meat.
3. Diet during the pre-puberty years is of prime importance
The body goes through a lot of physical changes during the second-growth spurt, reaching optimum height and weight being some of them. Hence, a healthy diet that included a lot of calcium, vitamin D and proteins, even before kids reach puberty is extremely crucial.
4. Vitamin D: A crucial component
Vitamin D, in my opinion, is the most undervalued nutrient as is evident with a large percentile of adult population being diagnosed for low levels. In fact, the body requires Vitamin D in sufficient quantities to absorb the calcium which we all know aids a stronger bone development.
The second-growth spurt phase provides the last window of opportunity to gain maximum growth for a healthy adult life.
So, parents, don’t wait. Make sure you check the nutrition levels of your children’s diet, make the necessary changes and ensure that their second-growth spurt is both comfortable and healthy.
About the Writer: Uma Chellappa
Uma Chellappa is a German language specialist turned technical and creative content writer. She realized her passion and skill for writing after she took to blogging while on a career break to look after her newborn, now a 6-year-old energetic child. A trained classical singer, active blogger, hands-on mother, and an aspiring writer, she wears many hats. Reading, word games, travelling and watching movies are some of her other interests. She shares her thoughts on myriad topics, including parenting, on her personal blog, “My musings”.