Growth & Weight
From the start of pregnancy, health care providers monitor and assess for healthy growth and development of the child. It starts with monitoring the pregnant person and as soon as baby is born, their growth and development is monitored regularly. Some caregivers can become concerned, when feeding their growing child, about whether they are getting the right amount of nutrients to thrive in the healthiest way possible.
Growth and development
Health care providers use growth charts developed by the World Health Organization to plot height and weight and assess a child’s growth and development. They look for a consistent trend in how the child is growing that is determined by their genetics and metabolism. Growth charts are not the only tool for understanding whether a child is healthy. It’s also important that they are happy, active, sleeping and eating well and meeting their developmental milestones like walking and talking.
Weight loss is never promoted
Weight loss can severely impact a child’s ability to grow and develop. If a caregiver is concerned about their child’s weight, for whatever reason, it is important that they consult a health care provider like a doctor, nurse practitioner or registered dietitian. These health professionals can help to assess the child’s growth, food intake and activity levels and suggest changes to promote a healthier growth pattern. Weight loss strategies will never be suggested.
Promoting healthy growth
A child will grow and thrive in the body that is right for them as long as they are allowed to do so. They will naturally go through phases of growth where they eat more and times where they eat less. Picky eating can be common in the early years and is considered normal. It is important to respect a child’s lack of experience with new foods and avoid pressuring them to eat. This pressure can turn mealtime into a negative experience for the whole family and has not been shown to help with picky eating or healthy growth and development. Here are some tips to share with caregivers:
• Serve familiar foods alongside new foods and role model eating a new food without pressuring the child to try it.
• Allow the child to learn when they are hungry and when they are full and do not pressure them to “finish their plate”.
• Avoid using food as a reward or punishment.