This chapter is the first of three that exploring nutrition through the life cycle and it looks at pregnancy through the toddler years. Topics include pregnancy, breastfeeding, introducing solid foods, and nutrition during the toddler years.
- 13.1: Introduction to Lifespan Nutrition (Pregnancy to the Toddler Years)
- Human bodies change significantly over time, and food is the fuel for those changes. For example, for Native Hawaiians, expecting mothers were encouraged to eat greens like the lu‘au (young taro leaves) and palula (young sweet potato leaves) to encourage a healthy, strong baby. These beliefs and customs practiced in the early stages of life were done in hopes of building a firm foundation and setting up lifelong health.
- 13.2: Pregnancy
- It is crucial to consume healthy foods at every phase of life, beginning in the womb. Good nutrition is vital for any pregnancy and not only helps an expectant mother remain healthy, but also impacts the development of the fetus and ensures that the baby thrives in infancy and beyond. During pregnancy, a woman’s needs increase for certain nutrients more than for others.
- 13.3: Infancy
- Diet and nutrition have a major impact on a child’s development from infancy into the adolescent years. A healthy diet not only affects growth, but also immunity, intellectual capabilities, and emotional well-being. One of the most important jobs of parenting is making sure that children receive an adequate amount of needed nutrients to provide a strong foundation for the rest of their lives.
- 13.4: Toddler Years
- Major physiological changes continue into the toddler years. Unlike in infancy, the limbs grow much faster than the trunk, which gives the body a more proportionate appearance. By the end of the third year, a toddler is taller and more slender than an infant, with a more erect posture. As the child grows, bone density increases and bone tissue gradually replaces cartilage. This process known as ossification is not completed until puberty.