Good nutrition is especially important for infants, toddlers and young children, as they need various vitamins and minerals in balanced proportions to help their bodies and minds develop and mature. Giving your child a healthy and balanced diet, even during prenatal growth, will help create good nutrition habits for the future.
Why is nutrition important?
Every child’s diet should contain healthy amounts of carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Here are a few reasons why:
Growing strong bones
Bone is a living and growing tissue and the best time to build bones is during early childhood. Make sure your child’s diet includes calcium and vitamin D rich foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Also, encourage your child to play outside, especially on sunny days, as sunshine provides natural (and free) vitamin D.
Muscle development is crucial to support your child’s physical activity. Include plenty of protein in your their diet to build and repair muscle tissues. Protein is found in lean meats (such as chicken), eggs, cheese, milk, nuts, beans, and legumes (beans).
Fuel for the body
Think of food as your child’s fuel for learning and play. The main source of this fuel comes from carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates not only provide him/her with energy, but also fiber, vitamins and minerals. Good examples include cereals (preferably the whole grain variety), rice, bread, oats, noodles, and pasta.
Providing a healthy diet can help prevent childhood obesity and even adult diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to stretch a grocery budget far enough to include nutrient rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and dairy products. Supplemental nutrition programs like the Medina County Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program can help. Family households at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level can receive nutrition education, breastfeeding education and supports, supplemental foods, and referrals to other community resources. Qualifying participants include pregnant women, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding moms, infants, and children up to age 5 who meet the following (newly expanded) income guidelines:
*A pregnant woman counts as more than one family member. If you currently receive Medicaid, Food Stamps, or Ohio Works First, you automatically meet the income eligibility for WIC.
For more detailed information about the Medina County WIC program and new income guidelines, visit us at www.medinahealth.org or call us at (330) 723-9688 option 4.
Since 1918, the Medina County Health Department has offered the community an array of programs and services that prevent disease, prolong life, assure a healthy environment, and promote the well being of Medina County citizens. Partially funded by your local health tax levy, our primary goals are to create healthy people, a healthy community and a healthy environment.