Even before their children are born, parents begin to prepare for their healthy development. From pre-pregnancy, they scour resources to ensure they do everything possible for their child’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development. As busy parents, we sometimes have to dig deep to remember to keep track of our child’s growth and development. Sometimes we’re right on track, and sometimes we see the need to pay special attention to certain indicators of their growth.
Here are five ways to be proactive and stay on track with your child’s development at every stage.
1. Provide nutrition supportive of healthy growth and development.
One study, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, showed that delayed growth or development doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. With dietary counseling and nutritional intervention, children as old as three or four years successfully caught up to their peer group averages. In addition, participants showed improvement in physical activity levels and took fewer sick days over the period of the study.
The bottom line is that balanced nutrition is essential at every stage of your child’s development. Here are a few nutritional strategies for monitoring your child’s nutritional intake.
- Take note of calories. Underweight children need a higher intake of calories to get back on track. These can be found in the dietary guidelines for the American age-specific recommendations.
- Get fuel from macros, which is short for macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Protein, specifically, plays a role in the repair and recovery of tissues in organs, skin, muscles, and blood.
- Focus on iron, zinc, and Vitamin D. The body is highly dependent on iron during periods of growth, as it helps with the transport of oxygen to cells throughout your body. Iron-rich foods include eggs, meat, beans, and fortified cereals.
2. Encourage communication, both verbal and non-verbal.
There are plenty of opportunities to incorporate language development and encouragement into your daily routine with your child. Here are a few strategies to try.
- Choose some simple words to repeat over and over. To best encourage toddlers to talk, incorporate words into your daily routine. Say these words or phrases repeatedly and in reference to everyday tasks like brushing teeth or leaving the house. For instance, use phrases like “put on shoes” and “let’s go”.
- Pair words with movement and make fun sounds. Imitation is a skill all healthy toddlers master, and it’s easier for children to learn sounds than words. Some fun phrases include “pop, pop”, “choo, choo”, and “up, up, up!”.
- Eliminate visual distractions and background noise. Overstimulating visuals and background noises can impede your child’s auditory attention to your verbal cues.
- Point and repeat. Enough can’t be said for this simple tactic to express to your child the importance of certain words in your daily routine. The more they hear them, the quicker they will comprehend and repeat them.
The main thing to remember when teaching language skills is repetition.
3. Invest in a reputable, private preschool that can back up their claims regarding child growth and development.
Enrolling your child in a private preschool can do wonders for their socio-emotional, creative, and intellectual abilities. A progressive pre-K program can teach important skills while focusing on the specific interests and skill levels of each child.
This type of specialized school puts a strong emphasis on family involvement and partnering with parents to assess your child’s developmental progress. These academies also host events throughout the year for families to get to know each other, such as Thanksgiving luncheons and ice cream socials.
4. Stay positive.
Although you may be concerned about your child’s development, don’t let worry keep you from even the smallest of milestones. When your child makes gains, acknowledge them and celebrate. Sensing that you are overly concerned can hold your child back from challenging his abilities in fear that it won’t be good enough.
5. Keep communication open between you and all practitioners.
Finally, make sure that lines of communication are clear with your child’s physicians and therapists to keep them aware of other services your child is receiving. It’s important that each educational or treatment approach to healthy development complements the others.