You know that feeling you get, the one where you could swear your little one has grown overnight, and well it's probably based more on reality than you think. Children grow at an unbelievable rate. As much as we love them when they are tiny, and oh so adorable, they are simply little growing machines. Did you know that during the first year our babies typically triple their birth weight and grow 25 cm in length? Between the ages of 1-3 years this growth rate slows down a little with most toddlers gaining nearly 2 kilograms a year and adding 10 centimeters to their height. Still pretty amazing!
That’s what we see physically but there is also a ton of brain and cognitive development and an ever increasing awareness of the world around them that grows daily. Something as simple and as meeting their basic nutritional needs is an obvious starting point. It is important for children to be well nourished within the first 1,000 days, since most of the growth and brain development happens during that time.
We need to provide our toddlers with the right quantity and quality of Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins to ensure the best for them. Proteins are particularly important, because too much of it may have adverse effects on your toddler’s health. For example, cow’s milk and most other kinds of milk have higher amounts of proteins than our toddlers’ needs, which can cause overweight and obesity.
Protein powers brain cells playing an instrumental role in growth and development. These milk and food feeding stages are the perfect time to socialize with your little one. During the initial phase the holding and natural cuddling that occurs during breast or bottle feeding helps your child recognize facial features, voices and the physical contact can't be beat. As you begin introducing finger food to your child you are naturally improving eye hand coordination and small motor skills. Talk to your child during meal time and you are also building and reinforcing vocalizations and vocabulary. They will grow up and begin eating independently before you know it, so make the most of this time.
So what else can we do to help them through this fantastic phase of growth and development? Plenty! First of all try to be in and appreciate the moment. Your child will pass through them so quickly that you will wonder if you had just imagined them all! Savor small and large milestones because each and every one is wonderful in its own way. Try to trust and follow your instincts when it comes to your children. None of us are right all of the time but if we are really keeping our child's best interest in mind we won't be too far off base. Allow yourself to tune into your child, learn their cues and body language and teach them to communicate with you as they grow. Listening to the advice of others can be helpful at times but when push comes to shove listen to your own inner voice! Tune into your little one and watch them blossom under your tender guidance.
Allow yourself to see the world through your child's eyes and then thank them for the gift. You will gain a new appreciation of the world and all of the simple wonders it offers us daily! Engage your child at a level that works for them and then make simple adjustments as they grow and develop. Play with them, laugh with them, sing, dance, read, crawl, walk, run, cook and babble, talk, converse, share, sing and celebrate. Your child's childhood is a once in a lifetime gift so savor it all and you will send them off into the world well loved, confident and ready for anything! Don't worry...that part is many, many years down the road!