Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds
Babies and young children are lively, active little people who are growing all the time. They need a well-balanced, nutritious diet to help them stay healthy and provide plenty of energy. Because children only have small stomachs, they need a series of small meals and snacks throughout the day to keep them going.
A healthy diet for a toddler is different to that for an older child or an adult because toddlers need more fat and less fibre than that recommended for others. Under-5s will get adequate amounts of all the nutrients and energy they need if their diet is based on combining foods from the five food groups; carbohydrates, proteins, fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy, and foods high in fat or sugar.
Being physically active every day is important for the healthy growth and development of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. For this age group, activity of any intensity should be encouraged, including light activity and more energetic physical activity.
The recommended daily guideline for the amount of time that young children should be physically active for is 180 minutes every day. That is 3 hours of physical activity built up throughout a child’s day!
Meeting the daily recommended guidelines for physical activity will promote the following development in babies and young children:
- Motor skills – balance and coordination.
- Development of strong bones, muscles and maintenance of a healthy weight.
- Social skills - turn taking, problem solving.
- Improved mental wellbeing - confidence and self-esteem.
- Better concentration levels, thus more able to learn.
Here are the guidelines for how many portions of each Food type children should be eating on a daily basis:
- Protein - Meat, fish, poultry and eggs – 2 portions
- Fruit and vegetables – 5 portions
- Dairy produce and other calcium-rich foods – 4 portions
- Carbohydrates - Bread, cereals, rice, potatoes and pasta – 5 portions