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Feeding Through the Ages

Overview: Different Ages Have Different Needs

Children's needs change as they grow older. Younger children need more direct guidance and reassurance, while older children need more choices and opportunities to challenge themselves. As children develop they go through "stages" in various areas of development: physical, social/emotional, and cognitive. With each stage children gain new skills, and are faced with new challenges. The combination of skills and challenges at each stage determines what children need from parents.

Understanding what to expect with each age poses two benefits. First, parents can learn the best way to support the stage of development and use it to their advantage so they are not working against the child's natural tendencies. Second, parents can plan ahead for what is to come, so  they are not surprised or left feeling helpless and frustrated when their child's behavior shifts.

While each child will develop at their own pace, there are some general developmental stages recognized in the field of child development. You can review specific information on developmental ages and stages at: http://www.parentingcounts.org/information/timeline/

Common Ages and Stages:

Toddler (1.5-3 years)

  • Physical: increased mobility, gross & fine motor skills
  • Social/emotional: feels pride & embarrassment, imitates behavior, defiant
  • Cognitive: pretend play, language, developes better memory

 Preschooler (3-5 years)

  • Physical: balance, more complex gross motor (stairs, jumping, throwing, catching)
  • Social/emotional: less defiant, more independent, likes to please, begins to understand other people’s feelings, can take turns (patience)
  • Cognitive: likes rules, understands time, understands different people can see things different ways (perspective taking), more complex pretend play

 Youth (5-11 years)

  • Physical: growth slows, signs of puberty begin, increased coordination
  • Social/emotional: have specific friends, peer influence increases, identify by their gender
  • Cognitive: can follow complex rules (games), can tell time and plan ahead, can think through a problem, increased curiosity
Nutrition Educator Training

Read the Scenario at the top of this page.

Then read through the materials on Feeding Through the Ages: Overview, Application, and Tips.

Note the Additional Resources (but you do not need to read them all at this time).

Please RIGHT CLICK the link below and select "open in a new window".

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