No more baby bottles and purees, your child now eats (almost) like you. But even after 3 years, he still has very specific needs. Balanced diet, foods to avoid, sugar consumption… Advice from Olivia Beziat, dietician specializing in pediatrics.
Child’s diet is one of the most important issues for parents. How to give your child a balanced diet while keeping the pleasure of eating, how to introduce him to different flavors and make him want to taste everything? So many questions that sometimes ask adults to rethink their diet too… for the good of the little ones.
After three years, the rhythm of meals is normally acquired, the child makes 3 meals a day plus an afternoon snack. But this period is also marked by a major change. “The child generally enters the community and the group of friends will begin to have an influence on the content of his plate.“, observes Olivia Beziat. Parents, on the other hand, may tend to relax their attention because the child seems to eat like them. A point on which the dietician rightly calls for vigilance. “The little ones are in full growth phase, care must be taken to meet their specific nutritional needs for another ten years! The role of parents is therefore to guarantee the quality of the content of their plate with safe, healthy food and in quantities adapted to their age..”, she explains.
Food provides us with essential nutrients for the proper functioning of our body. “You have to eat a lot of variety, little or no processed foods, from an early age and throughout life!”recommends the dietitian.
Sugar, friend or foe?
“There is no point in demonizing sugar, but it is not useful and should not be seen as a product for immediate happiness. A cake, a chocolate is a pleasure if it is not daily, but it should not be a reward for blackmail either..”, explains the dietician. If sugar is too present during the child’s day, at meals, at snack time, at recess, it is very likely that his other needs in calcium, iron, vitamins are not covered. Foods naturally contain sugars or carbohydrates and it is not useful to consume additional sugary products. However, scientific studies now show that children consume too many added sugars (sweetened drinks, fruit juices, cookies, pastries and even sweet desserts). It is up to parents to accustom their children very early to not necessarily ending a meal on a “sweet note”.
The ideal is therefore to keep the natural sweet products that enhance a healthy diet: jam on toast, chocolate in snack bread or coconut sugar on strawberries, for example. But can we allow ourselves an ice cream, a candy or a big cake from time to time? Sure ! “Setting an example for your child doesn’t mean doing everything perfectly all the time. Going outside the box occasionally by indulging in a special meal or treat implies that healthy principles are established and equal for each member of the family..”, she concludes.
Calcium: an essential!
The bottles have been put away in the cupboard and your child is drinking less and less milk. It will then be necessary to make sure to compensate by offering him a dairy product at each meal. “Calcium needs only increase until the end of adolescence to reach, at the end of growth, an optimal peak of bone mineral mass., explains the dietitian. Calcium is provided by plant sources (leafy vegetables and legumes), mineral sources (water) but above all greatly facilitated by the consumption of dairy products (milk, dairy products, cheese). You can therefore easily vary the sources of calcium.
Proteins: how much meat, fish or eggs according to age?
Children love the meat, fish and eggs. The big question, however, is that of amount to give them according to their age. “Keep in mind thatbetween 4 and 6 years, we do not exceed three-quarters of ground beef, escalope or fish fillet and it’s only around 8 years that we can consider that he will eat it whole“explains Olivia Beziat. Meat, fish and eggs are not the only sources of protein and offering too much will give him the habit of consuming more than he needs, and often to the detriment of the rest. of the plate, so you have to be vigilant and consume it in moderation.
The dietician raises two issues: the danger induced by the food itself, due to its shape or consistency, and the presence of additives potentially harmful in their composition. “Beyond 3 years, the chewing of food is well advanced but however, caution should be exercised with spherical and smooth foods that can obstruct the airways by false route. This is the case of hard candies, peanuts, cherry tomatoes, grapes or knacki balls for example.”, she warns. Olivia Beziat also recommends being particularly attentive to “additives, dyes and chemicals found in food because overconsumption of these substances can disrupt the fragile body of children.“
For Olivia Beziat, the secret to ensuring that meals go well and that the child learns to eat everything is to follow the following principles as soon as possible, as soon as diversification begins:
eating at the table, as a family until dessert, being well installed to eat well: chair with backrest and supporting feet.
Respect the child’s appetite, listen to him and let him decide on the quantities consumed. As soon as possible let the child help himself with tools adapted to his hands.
Offer the child choices whose nutritional quality you control. Isn’t it custard or banana? But rather yogurt or Swiss cheese, banana or peach, grated carrots or carrots au gratin, etc. He must feel that he can decide among selected foods.
Give the example ! Do you eat what you ask him to eat? Indeed it is by our side and with the example that we give them, that our children acquire behaviors and habits of life which will be preserved throughout their life.
thanks to Olivia Beziat, dietician specializing in pediatrics.
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