Nutrition: The Most Important Factor During Developmental Years

Advancing from infancy toward and into the preschool years are wonderful years. During this time, a child’s physical growth and motor development will slow, but you can expect to see some tremendous intellectual, social, and emotional changes. Toddlers are active and while it may seem that your own toddler gets all the exercise he needs as he’s constantly on the move from sunup to bedtime, it is still important for your child to engage in active play.

During these years, your primary focus should be on good nutrition rather than the number of calories he’s consuming. This yearlong energy spurt certainly will keep you on the go. But take heart—his activity level will strengthen his body and develop his coordination. Changes in appetite are not unusual after his first birthday. Suddenly he’s picky about what he eats, turns his head away after just a few bites, or resists coming to the table at mealtimes.

It may seem as if he should be eating more now that he’s so active, but there’s a good reason for the change. His growth rate has slowed, and he really doesn’t require as much food now. Also behavioral changes in toddlers are a normal, aggressive response to frustration that should be handled with reinforcements for positive behavior, opportunities for physical play, and age-appropriate punishments.

In the first 2 years of life, you need to avoid placing any restrictions on the amount of fat your child consumes. Your toddler actually needs fat in his diet to ensure proper growth and brain development.