Nutrition, Health, and Safety in Early Childhood

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  • 0:01 Early Childhood
  • 1:17 Nutrition
  • 2:45 Safety
  • 4:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

As children grow and develop, so do threats to their health. From nutrition and childhood obesity to accidents, this lesson will explore the issues that face children in early childhood and what parents can do to deal with them.

Early Childhood

Ellen is the mother of a rowdy 3-year-old. Her daughter Laney gets in all sorts of trouble every day. She likes to explore, but that can lead to cuts and bruises or even worse injuries. She's very active. Laney is developing, or growing and learning, and part of that process involves moving from one phase of life into another.

Early childhood is the time from age two to about age six or seven. It's different from infancy in several ways. As a baby, for example, Laney couldn't do much exploring. She would just lie around and didn't go anywhere.

Now, though, Laney is into everything. Ellen has to watch her very closely to make sure that Laney doesn't get into trouble or get injured.

Laney has changed in other ways, too. She can talk now, whereas before she could only cry or coo. She eats solid foods, but when she was a baby, she only drank milk or formula. She's getting bigger every day and understanding more and more about the world around her. All of these changes are part of the period of life called early childhood.

Let's look closer at two common concerns that parents have when their kids are in early childhood: nutrition and safety.

Nutrition

When Laney was a baby, she used to eat all the time. First, she would drink her bottle, and then when she started eating baby food and eventually solid food, she would eat a lot. There's a very good reason for this: she was growing at an exponential rate. Her body and brain needed food to use as fuel for all the growth going on.

But lately, Ellen has noticed a change in Laney. She doesn't eat as much as she used to. Ellen worries that this is because something is wrong. Is Laney sick? Is there something really wrong with her?

Probably not. The truth is that around age two, growth slows in children. They still grow but not as quickly as before. As a result, children don't need as much food. Most kids in early childhood naturally eat less than they did as infants.

Like Ellen, many parents worry that there's something wrong when their children's eating habits change. But it's completely normal for children to eat less than they did when they were babies. Forcing a child to eat more than they need is a bad idea that can contribute to the problem of childhood obesity.

Another way that Ellen and parents like her can fight childhood obesity is by encouraging their children to move every day. Movement, which can be dancing, walking, running, playing or a whole host of other activities, comes naturally to young children, and parents should encourage their children to go with their instincts and move regularly.

Safety

Childhood obesity is a serious health issue for many children, but many people are surprised to discover that the number one cause of death in children over the age of one isn't due to obesity-related illness but due to accidents.

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