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Children need a balance of nutrients from food for healthy brain growth and development. Under-nourished children grow more slowly and have less energy to learn and explore. Severe under-nutrition may cause brain growth to slow, and may lead to delays in physical development.
Young children need a variety of healthy foods that are nutrient dense. Nutrient dense foods are high in nutrients (such as protein, vitamins, or minerals) that contribute to growth. Because young children's stomachs are small, they cannot eat large amounts of food at one time. Children who fill up on high-calorie foods and beverages without many nutrients will not be hungry for the nutritious foods their bodies need.
Young children are at high risk of choking. Young children should not be given foods such as nuts, popcorn and raisins because they may cause choking. Round foods, such as grapes, should be cut into small, non-round pieces. Adults need to supervise young children's meals carefully to reduce the risk of choking on foods.
By offering a variety of healthy foods at regular mealtimes, parents can help children get the important nutrients that their growing brains and bodies need to thrive. More information about good nutrition for young children can be found on the USDA MyPlate website.