If a child is growing slowly or is small for his age, nutritious meals are often a good place to start, but that might not be enough. Some children are picky eaters and simply do not have the eating habits to ensure that they are receiving sufficient nutrition they need at mealtimes. Thus, healthy snacks for kids can help provide nutrients that support optimal growth, especially when it comes to protein.
Jennifer Williams, Masters in Public Health, pediatric nutrition researcher with Abbott, explains that protein supplies the raw materials growing bodies need to build cells, tissues, muscles and bones. Sufficient daily protein intake also plays an important role in the metabolism of other nutrients, the formation of red blood cells and strengthening of the immune system1.
Does Your Child Have a Protein Gap?
A study conducted among healthy 3 - 7 years old children in China, found that over half the children displayed picky eating behaviors which were negatively associated with growth. These children were found to consume less protein intake compared with peers who were normal eaters2.
Back in Singapore, 1 in 2 parents identify their children as picky eaters, and picky eating is first noticed as early as 1 year old3. According to the Recommended Dietary Allowances by the Health Promotion Board, children 1 - 3 years old require approximately 22 grams of protein a day and this daily target jumps to approximately 30 grams for children between the ages of four to eight4.
If you're concerned about your child's growth, be sure to speak to your pediatrician for additional guidance.
So, how do snacks fit into the picture?
Health Promotion Board reported that unhealthy eating practices is one of the health concerns faced by children in Singapore. While snacking allows the body to maintain blood glucose levels at equilibrium, excessive snacking can be bad for your child5. It has also cautioned against using food as a reward or punishment as it may result in the child having an increased desire to consume or avoid certain food6.
In fact, a snack should be nutritious and substantial enough to keep your child full between meals, but not so large or high in calories that it interferes with mealtime appetite.
For healthy inspiration, try these tasty, protein-packed PediaSure snacks for kids7.
To find out more nutritious and delicious recipes for your child, head over to our website pediasure.sg/recipes for tasty recipes for every mealtime!
1 Abbott Nutrition News. (2018, 1 August). Abbott. Retrieved from http://www.nutritionnews.abbott/nutrition-as-medicine/why-kids-need-healthy-protein-snacks.html
2 Xue, Y., Zhao, A., Cai, L., Yang, B., Szeto, I., Ma, D., Zhang, Y. & Wang, P. (2015, 13 April). Growth and Development in Chinese Pre- Schoolers with Picky Eating Behaviour: A Cross-Sectional Study. PLOS ONE. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0123664
3 Abbott Nutrition News. (2018, 8 August). Abbott. Retrieved from http://www.nutritionnews.abbott/nutrition-as-medicine/why-is-protein-important-for-kids--growth-.html
4 Health Hub. (2018, 29 January). Health Promotion Board. Retrieved from https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/192/recommended_dietary_allowances
5 Singapore’s Child. (2016, 10 August). Food & Health. Retrieved from http://singaporeschild.com.sg/does-your-child-have-bad-eating-habits/
6 Health Hub. (2018, 3 October). Health Promotion Board. Retrieved from https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1264/growing-kid-raising-healthy-kids
7 PediaSure Recipes. (2019, 6 February). Abbott Family. Retrieved from https://abbottfamily.com.sg/pediasure-recipes