I am not a nutritionist by any stretch of the imagination. I am merely a mom of four little ones ages 4 1/2, 3, 2 and soon to be 6 months. And if there is something that I have quickly learned from my experience is that food plays a critical role in how our children develop physicially and emotionally. It can affect their behavior, mood and ability to focus and learn. Not to mention how prepared they are to tackle common childhood ailments through their developing immune system when they ingest immune suppressing substances like sugar.
Breastfeeding receives much awareness and thankfully moms are advised through several channels about the importance of that first level of nutrition and its wide benefits for both baby and mom but it doesn't end there. Once our kids start eating solids, that is where the real challenge begins. I've seen it with my own kids especially my toddlers who all of a sudden require extra time and attention and reinforcement as to the importance of trying new foods every day.
As one source mentioned, you don't want to get in the habit of forcing your kids to eat foods they don't like or make them "clean" their plates, there are lots of healthy foods kids like. Parents often overlook these healthy foods and go straight to what they think are more "kid-friendly foods," such as hot dogs, pizza, french fries, chicken nuggets, juice and soda which can be harmful to them.
They will mimic us and do as they see. I've noticed that when I pick up an apple or banana or yogurt, my toddlers are eager to copy mommy. And that is what I strive to do. Model positive eating behavior. I wish that before they discharged you from the hospital with your newborn, in addition to going over all the things you need to do and remember, that they also gave you an overview on "Childhood Nutrition Basics". If there is a class out there, I'd be willing to take it. There are many passionate parents out there that given ailments, allergies and other concerns, have become determined to have nutrition be at the forefront of our conciousness and understand the direct link between common childhood diseases and conditions and diet. Prevention is always better than treatment.
My learning on this topic has just begun...there is so much I don't know...but for the sake of my little ones and their bodies I will do my best to learn as much as I can :)