As parents, it's natural to want the best for our children, especially when it comes to their health and well-being. From the moment they enter the world, we are faced with decisions that can impact their development. One of the most significant choices revolves around nutrition, particularly during early childhood, defined as the period between 6 months and 2 years old. Let’s explore the scientific benefits of better early childhood nutrition and developing healthy eating habits, highlighting the numerous advantages a broad-based, highly nutritious diet can have on your child's growth and development.

The benefits of healthy eating, and a broad-based, highly nutritive diet during early childhood cannot be overstated. By providing your child with a well-balanced and diverse diet, you are actively supporting their cognitive and physical development, immune function, sleep quality, emotional and social well-being, and long-term health. As parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility to set the foundation for a healthy and thriving life for our little ones. By understanding and embracing the science behind early childhood nutrition, we can make informed choices about healthy foods to eat that will have a lasting positive impact on their growth and development.

Optimal Cognitive Development

A well-balanced diet during early childhood can greatly impact a child's cognitive development. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children who received optimal nutrition between the ages of 6 months and 2 years demonstrated better cognitive performance in later childhood (1). Nutrients such as iron, zinc, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential for brain development, and a nutritious diet helps ensure these are adequately supplied.

Enhanced Immune System Function

A strong immune system is vital for overall health, and a nutritious diet plays a crucial role in supporting it. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that proper nutrition during early childhood is essential for the development of a robust immune system, helping to prevent illnesses and infections (2).

Improved Sleep Quality

A well-nourished child is more likely to experience better and more restful sleep. Research in the journal Nutrients found that children with a balanced diet had a lower risk of sleep disturbances, which can impact growth and overall well-being (3).

Healthy Growth and Physical Development

A nutrient-dense diet is essential for supporting a child's growth and physical development.Research published in The Lancet indicates that children who receive adequate nutrition during early childhood are more likely to achieve healthy height and weight (4). Essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and protein are vital for bone and muscle development.

Emotional and Social Well-being

Proper nutrition can also influence a child's emotional and social development. A study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that children with a well-balanced diet exhibited better emotional and social skills, including improved self-esteem, communication, and relationship-building abilities (5).

Prevention of Long-term Health Issues

Early childhood nutrition can impact long-term health outcomes. According to research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, children who receive optimal nutrition during early childhood are less likely to develop chronic diseases such as obesity, type2 diabetes, and heart disease in later life (6).


(1) Grantham-McGregor, S., et al. (1991). Nutritional supplementation, psychosocial stimulation, and mental development of stunted children: the Jamaican Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


(2) Chandra, R. K. (1997). Nutrition and the immune system: an introduction. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


(3) Taveras, E. M., et al. (2017). A Longitudinal Study of Infant Sleep Duration and Weight Gain During Early Childhood. Nutrients.


(4) Black, R. E., et al. (2013). Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries. The Lancet.


(5) Jacka, F. N., et al. (2013). A prospective study of diet quality and mental health in adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.


(6) Birch, L. L., & Ventura, A. K. (2009). Preventing childhood obesity: what works?International Journal of Obesity.