A growing child is a bundle of energy and requires proper nutrition at every stage of his formative years to have a healthy body. A nutrition rich diet also helps in developing the child’s cognitive abilities and helps them build a strong immune system that helps to protect themselves from common infections. The quality of their intake and dietary habits also impacts their behavior. It is common knowledge that children with a balanced diet are healthier, more active and happier. But a child’s dietary habits begin to undergo a change the moment he or she starts preschool. At this age, the child starts developing preferences and begins to dislike certain food items while developing a strong affinity for some other kinds of foods. They are also impressionable and are often influenced by the eating habits of their peers at school and elders at home.
Parents, today, are generally well informed about a child’s nutritional requirements as they often remain in touch with their pediatricians to know what is best for their child. In general, a child’s growing body and mind needs a healthy mix of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to ensure a healthy childhood. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the child etas fresh fruits and vegetables every day as they are a natural source of many vitamins and minerals that are essential for a strong immune system, physical growth, brain development etc.. While this can be managed easily when the child is at home, it becomes important to ensure that the child’s dietary requirements are met even when he or she starts going to school.
When a child starts going to school, he or she is introduced to more children in the same age as them. They begin to form friends and enjoy the company of their group. This helps them develop their social skills and teaches them to be in the company of others. At the same time, sometimes this also affects their eating habits. Parents and other family members have an even bigger role to play in this. If the child sees the parents and family members eat a nutritional diet, they are more likely to adopt a healthy lifestyle themselves. However, a busy schedule often makes it difficult for parents to eat healthy themselves. The challenge, therefore, for parents lies in leading by example. No matter how busy, parents must ensure that they too consume nutritious food in front of their kids.
Food prepared for kids needs to balance innovation with nutrients. It needs to contain proteins, greens, fruits and fibre. The portions served to the child must be enough to fill their hunger pangs and share with their friends at preschool but not enough to encourage overeating. It is important to keep the child interested in meal times by introducing variety and presenting the food creatively. Children are more likely to be attracted to food that looks more appealing. When packing lunch for a preschooler, it is important to pack food items that are easy to eat, not messy and does not spoil easily. The child should always carry his or her own supply of clean drinking water too.
The Role of the Preschool
Teachers at the child’s preschool also play an important role in inculcating healthy eating habits in the child. The teachers and staff at Beehive, Garodia Education chain of preschools encourage the parents to pack nutritious and healthy lunches for their wards. The students are taught basic hygiene like washing their hands before and after eating and are motivated to finish their meals in time.