12: From Pregnancy to the Toddler Years
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This chapter is the first of two 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. In this chapter and the next, we will explore how the dietary decisions we make affect our health and wellness throughout the life cycle. We begin by examining the developmental changes that occur during pregnancy, infancy, and the toddler years, and how nutritional choices affect those changes. From pregnancy through the toddler years, children are entirely dependent on parents or caregivers for nutrients. Parents also help to establish a child’s eating habits and attitudes toward food. So, adults must be mindful of the choices they make and how those choices influence a young child’s development, health, and overall well-being.
- 12.1: Chapter Introduction
- Nutritional choices that parents make, such as the decision to breastfeed or bottle-feed, not only affect early childhood development, but also a child’s health and wellness later in life. It is imperative to promote and support the best practices for the well-being of infants and mothers alike. In this chapter, we will examine how dietary choices—from daily caloric intake for pregnant women to serving sizes for toddlers—impact health and wellness during pregnancy and the early childhood years.
- 12.2: The Human Life Cycle
- The human body constantly develops and changes throughout the human life cycle, and food provides the fuel for those changes. The major stages of the human life cycle include pregnancy, infancy, the toddler years, childhood, puberty, older adolescence, adulthood, middle age, and the senior years. Proper nutrition and exercise ensure health and wellness at each stage of the human life cycle.
- 12.3: Pregnancy and Nutrition
- During pregnancy, it is imperative that a woman meet the nutritional needs both she and her unborn child require, which includes an increase in certain micronutrients, such as iron and folate. Starting BMI determines how much weight a woman needs to gain throughout her pregnancy. In an average pregnancy, a woman gains an extra 30 pounds. During the second and third trimesters, a woman’s energy requirements increase by 340 calories and 450 calories per day for the second and third trimesters.
- 12.4: Infancy and Nutrition
- Parents and other caregivers should use growth charts to track an infant’s development and determine how to best meet their child’s nutritional needs. For the first four to six months of life, children should consume breast milk exclusively. For the next six months, solid foods should be introduced gradually into an infant’s diet as parents and caregivers continue to provide breast milk. Breast milk is ideal for infants and provides all of the nutrients they need to grow and develop.
- 12.5: Nutrition in the Toddler Years
- By the toddler years, young children are able to self-feed and begin to develop eating habits and preferences. The energy requirements for ages two to three are about 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day, and in general, a toddler needs to consume about 40 calories for every inch of height. Growth slows during the toddler years, but children are more active at this stage and undergo a great deal of intellectual, emotional, and social development.