We love to track our children’s growth — and with good reason; these development milestones can be important indicators of how our children’s overall health is shaping up. 

What is healthy growth? 

When a child is slow to grow or is experiencing a growth plateau, it’s easy to get discouraged by the numbers. But centimetres and kilograms aren’t always indicative of optimal growth. In fact, healthy growth is measured by what’s normal for your child. When your paediatrician measures your child’s height and weight, they are looking for a consistent trend — not a magic number. If you’re worried your child’s growth may be falling behind, take solace in knowing that many factors affect their size. One example of this is genetics. For instance, if you or your partner has a small build, it’s likely — and perfectly normal — to have a child whose height and weight are below average.

Taking the time to teach your kids about the benefits of eating nutritious foods is one of the best steps you can take to help support their healthy growth.  

Here are a few tips on how you can talk to your children about healthy eating from Jennifer Williams, MPH, an Abbott Paediatric Scientist. 

Keep It Age Appropriate

You know that kids’ growth requires a diet with plenty of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, but how do you translate that information into kid-speak¹?

Younger children tend to do best with simple explanations that are easy to remember. For example, “milk helps your bones grow” or “pasta gives you the energy to run faster”. 

Older children can handle more detailed information, and to keep it engaging, you might focus on relatable everyday examples. Next time your child asks why you’re having chicken for dinner again, you can explain that chicken contains protein to build muscle,  which could help with performance on the soccer field. 

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Teach Healthy Habits

Good nutrition means getting all the vitamins and minerals you need, but it also means enjoying lots of different foods. When it comes to nutrition for kids’ growth, consider the role of nonverbal cues. As parents, we are a powerful influence in shaping children’s food preferences and habits. If you prepare, eat and enjoy lots of nutritious foods, there’s a good chance that your child will follow your healthy example. 

Children need to consume sufficient calories and key nutrients to reach their full growth potential¹³. If you see that your child is eating poorly, supplementing their diet by adding a nutritional supplement like PediaSure® 3+ could help.

For more information on how PediaSure® 3+ can help your little one’s weight, growth, immunity and development, visit their website or join the PediaSure® 3+ SA Facebook community. PediaSure® 3+ is a nutritional supplement drink for children aged 3-10 years. 

References

1. Huynh -> Longitudinal growth and health outcomes in nutritionally at-risk children who received long-term nut
2. Pérez-Rodrigo -> School-based nutrition education: lessons learned and new perspectives
3. Nicklas -> Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition Guidance for Healthy Children Ages 2 to 11
4. IQVIA -> Number 1 Paediatrician Recommended
5. PediaSure® -> PediaSure Supersonic Product Label
6. Huynh -> Longitudinal growth and health outcomes in nutritionally at-risk children who received long-term nutrition