The first two years of your child’s life count the most when it comes to nutrition, warn pediatricians. Getting a child to eat properly in the first 24 months of his or her life is a nerve racking experience for many parents, who are terrified that nutritional deprivation during this period will impact brain and body development permanently. This is, after all, the time of galloping growth in kids: the weight of a child triples in the first year, and height doubles every 1.5 years for girls, and 2 years for boys. Known as the “first growth spurt”, this is the period during which complete, quality nutrition makes the difference between healthy development and the absence of it. Deprivation at this time leads to stunted cognitive, emotional and physical development.
But here’s some good news for parents who feel they missed out in the beginning. A second opportunity to boost brainpower and development of children arises later, at the onset of adolescence: for boys this is around the age of 12, and for girls, it begins at 10. This second growth opportunity marks the transition between childhood and adulthood and is reflected in a rapid increase in height, weight and cognition. Biological changes that occur during the onset of puberty are an increase in skeletal mass, changes in body composition, rapid weight gain, and so on. These vary from one individual to another, depending on lifestyle, physical activity, hormonal function, food & nutrition and environmental exposure.