Toddler Health Poll: the results are in!

little girlWith sniffle-season upon us, our survey shows toddler health is a major concern for Aussie mothers.

Nine out of ten mums surveyed said good nutrition was very important for the health of their toddler. But while 84 per cent of mums agreed that there is a strong link between their child’s nutrition and their immune system, few understood the high rate of Australian toddler nutrition deficiencies.

Only one in three mums surveyed understood the number of Aussie toddlers with nutrition deficiencies. Australian studies[1],[2] show almost a quarter of Australian toddlers[3] have some dietary deficiency; including Zinc, Omega 3 and Vitamin C.

The most common deficiency is Iron[1]; 23% of Aussie toddlers do not get the required amount. Iron deficiencies are associated with decreased function of the immune system, which leaves toddlers even more susceptible to virus and infection during the cold and flu season.

According to Claudia Keech, founder of the online community for mums, it is extremely common for parents to be challenged by toddler eating habits.

“Toddlers can be a handful - especially at meal times. Getting the right food in front of them, keeping it off the walls, the floor, and yourself can be challenging enough,” Claudia said.

“But making sure toddlers get enough of the right foods to ensure their natural defences against bugs and viruses are at their strongest, can be like trying to turn the tide.”

Of the mums surveyed:

  • around 80% said they frequently thought about their toddler’s health and wellbeing
  • more than half said they often thought about their child’s immune system
  • 56% were concerned about their toddler’s diet and almost 40% felt their toddler’s diet needed improvement
  • over a quarter said they didn’t know whether their toddler was getting all the nutrition they need, or the right nutrients
  • the major barriers to toddlers getting enough of the right foods were listed as taste, time to source, prepare and serve, and cost.
  • Seven out of ten mums said kids experienced illness most frequently during the toddler years with almost half of mums saying their toddler’s bugs, infections and viruses were usually passed on to them or to other members of the household.

“When toddlers are sick it can be really tough, particularly for those who are juggling work and other demands,” Claudia said.

“Eight out of ten mothers surveyed said that when their toddler is unwell they feel worried, anxious, sad or helpless.

“At this time of year it’s even more important for parents to think about boosting their toddler’s immune system, ensuring they get enough Iron, Omega 3 and Zinc to ride out the flu season ahead and make the most of this great time of their life,” Claudia said.

“There is a need for better communication and education around this area, so mums can weigh up their options and decide what’s best for them and their toddler,” Claudia said.

Key findings

High concern for toddler health
• 77% of mums said they thought about their toddler’s health and wellbeing frequently
• Most mums said that they are concerned about their toddler’s diet (56%)

Good nutrition has a major role
• 90% of mums said that good nutrition was very important for the health of their toddler
• 57% of mums surveyed said they were concerned about their toddler’s diet
• 40% said that they felt their toddler’s diet needed improvement
• 25% of mums said they didn’t know whether their toddler was getting all the nutrition they need
• 24% said they didn’t know whether their toddler was getting enough of the right nutrients

It’s hard to get toddlers eating the right foods
• Taste was the most common barrier for mums to get their toddler to eat enough of the right foods
• Time to source, prepare and serve was the next most common barrier, followed by cost
• The results showed that around half (47%) of Aussie toddlers are fussy eaters
• 88% of mums said they do the best they can for their toddler’s diet

The immune system
• 84% of mums agreed that there is a strong link between their child’s nutrition and their immune system
• More than half (54%) said they often thought about their child’s immune system

Deficiencies in Aussie toddlers
• 32% of mums said they had no idea what most common toddler diet deficiencies
• Only one in three (32%) mums could identify the high rates of toddler nutrition deficiencies in Australia
• Around half of Aussie mums (48%) were concerned that their toddler might have a deficiency

Toddler illness and impacts

• 70% of mums surveyed said kids experienced illness most frequently during the toddler years (12 months to three years of age)
• 47% of mums said their toddler’s bugs, infections and viruses were usually passed on to them or to other members of the household
• 81% of mothers surveyed said that when their toddler is unwell they feel worried, anxious, sad or helpless
• 16% feel they can’t go to work and 13% say it is hard to arrange child care when their toddler is sick

 

Notes:

* Motherinc surveyed over 350 mothers from the online community. Mothers answered based on toddlers being from 12 months to three years of age.
[1] Webb K, Rutishauser I, Knezevic N. Foods, nutrients and portions consumed by a sample of Australian children aged 16-24. Nutrition and Dietetics. Feb 2008; 65 (1SUPPL:*):56-65
[2] Cobiac L. How much fish & omega-3s do Australian women & young children consume? Scientific Consensus Workshop Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Maternal and Infant Health and Development. Nov 2009: 27-29.
[3] Research undertaken for toddlers aged between 16 and 24 months

 
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