Child and Adult Care Food Program

Fueling Growth

Picture of a child eatingChildren come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Their genetic blueprints determine how fast and how big they will grow. Some children are destined to grow slowly while others make rapid leaps in development. Genetic, environmental, hormonal, nutritional and behavioral factors work together to determine a child's rate of growth. As the care giver, your job is to provide the right materials for growth - a wide variety of nutritious food.

Children must consume sufficient high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals and energy in their diets if adequate growth is to occur. Many factors determine a child's needs for nutrients, such as body size, physical activity, and illness or injury.

picture of a child eatingAlthough a child experiences growth spurts during the preschool years, the most significant periods of growth occur in infancy and adolescence. Even though growth rate slows during the preschool years, the body continues to change dramatically, and preschool children actually need more of certain nutrients than larger children. Therefore, every meal and snack is an opportunity to meet the special nutritional needs of the preschool child.

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