Updated Monday,27November2023 - 13:11

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Send by email

The fast-paced lifestyle dominates our society and solving on the fast track has become practically the norm. But this survival strategy can lead to major mistakes. As much as mealtimes with the little ones are often a very complicated time because their tastes and preferences usually clash head-on with what is put on their plate, it is essential not to lose our way by giving up on the easiest solution: giving them what they want.

The truth is that children have specific nutritional needs, typical of the stage of intense growth they are experiencing, and the only way to satisfy them is with a good diet.

What intakes are recommended?

"There are many key nutrients at this stage of growth and development. To name just a few, omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is essential for brain development and specialists recommend a daily intake of 100 mg per day. Another important nutrient for many functions but especially for bone development is vitamin D, which is involved in the absorption of calcium, and an intake of 7 micrograms/day is recommended. Fiber is also essential for children and is a nutrient that is often forgotten. The recommended intake depends on the age of the child and ranges between 10 and 20 grams per day," explains Federico Lara, director of R+D at Lactalis Puleva and scientific coordinator of the Puleva Nutrition Institute.

Iron is another essential nutrient in growth, as it helps move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and helps muscles store and use it. Iron deficiency in children is a common problem. It can take many levels, from mild fouling to iron-deficiency anemia.

The most frequent deficits

But there's more. According to the EsNuPI study (Nutritional Study in the Spanish Child Population), which is the most recent publication in which the nutritional intakes of Spanish children have been analysed, there is a vitamin D intake deficit that affects practically 100% of Spanish children. In the case of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, intakes are also low in children, who consume only a fifth of what is recommended. Specifically, 3 out of 4 Spanish children between the ages of 1 and 10 do not reach the intakes of Omega 3 DHA recommendedby international organizations and in particular by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)." It should be noted that [according to the ESNUPI study) those children who consumed fortified infant milk had much higher intakes of vitamin D and Omega 3 DHA, so fortified foods can be a good ally when it comes to reaching the recommendations," says Federico Lara.

Puleva Iron & DHA Calculator

How do you know if your little one is missing those key nutrients in the growth stage? The Puleva Institute of Nutrition has developed a simple calculator to check if the child is taking the recommended iron and DHA in their usual diet, and it is available at Puleva Peques Club.

Professionals stress that a complete and varied diet is enough to help the correct growth and state of health of children, hence the importance of transmitting it to them from a very young age. We must take into account the rejection of some foods in the infant stage, which has to do with the sensory characteristics of some foods: smell, taste, color and texture. "Rejection can also come because certain foods are not present in the family diet, making them unrecognizable to the child. Hence the importance of a varied and balanced diet for the whole family," suggests Federico Lara.

Recommendations for Parents

This expert argues that in a diet all foods can have their place, as long as there is an adequate balance between them and that those with a higher nutritional density are more present than others that are nutritionally poorer. Therefore, his first recommendation for parents of children is to take care of the diet of the whole family because an important part of a child's learning is based on imitating the behaviors of their parents or older siblings. "To do this, it is important that the sources of information used are reliable (scientific societies, official bodies, etc.) and that we do not pay attention to any recommendation without knowing the source well," he remarks. The results of the studies available at the Puleva Nutrition Institute also indicate that it is necessary for certain foods to gain weight in children's diets, especially fruits, vegetables and fish. "Spending a little more time in the kitchen to make the preparations more attractive to children is also good advice. And, always in the context of a varied diet, incorporating certain fortified foods, such as infant milks without added sugars, can be of great help in reaching the recommended intakes of key nutrients for the infant stage," she adds.

How Fortified Milks Help

In many cases, parents find it very difficult to introduce fruits, vegetables and fish into their children's diets as often as necessary to reach the recommended daily intakes, as children prefer other types of foods. Milk and other dairy products are among them, and in fact, milk in the diet of a developing child still weighs heavily relative to other foods.

Incorporating fortified milk can be a simple, useful and effective strategy to help achieve the recommended intake of iron and DHA in children's diets. The small gesture of opting for a milk adapted to growth and development with a nutritional profile superior to cow's milk can make a big difference.

Always in the context of a varied diet, changing the usual glass of milk for a glass of growth milk (from 1 to 3 years old) or growth and development milk (from 3 years onwards), helps to incorporate some key nutrients of which cow's milk is deficient and that are not being sufficiently provided in the diet through other foods. These milks are adapted milks, specially designed to meet the nutritional needs of the child from the age of 3, which maximize the benefits for the health and complete development of the child.

Made by UE Studio

This text has been developed by UE Studio, creative branded content and content marketing firm of Unidad Editorial, for INSTITUTO PULEVA NUTRITION.