Teach your child to eat right today, and you’ll help her eat right for life.
Learning healthy habits today can help your child grow up strong and fit. As a parent, you can teach your child to make better food choices. There are also things you can let your child do on her own.
Shopping for healthy foods
Shopping for healthy meals is the first step in practicing healthy eating habits. Your child can help pick out healthy foods with you.
Preschool-age children (ages 4 to 5) are still developing their eating habits and need encouragement to eat healthy meals and snacks. These children are eager to learn, especially from other people and will often imitate eating behaviors of adults. They need supervision at mealtime as they are still working on chewing and swallowing skills.
School-aged child nutrition
School-age children (ages 6 to 12) need healthy foods and nutritious snacks. They have a consistent but slow rate of growth and usually eat four to five times a day (including snacks). Many food habits, likes, and dislikes are established during this time. Family, friends, and the media (especially TV) influence their food choices and eating habits.
Heart healthy eating
A diet high in fat and cholesterol may contribute to the development of heart disease in adulthood. A heart healthy diet may help prevent or treat high blood cholesterol levels. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition recommends that healthy children age 2 and older follow a diet low in fat (30 percent of calories from fat). These are the same heart healthy eating recommendations for healthy adults.
Nutritious foods and drinks and healthy snacks
Try to serve your child foods from all the food groups every day. Give your child many kinds of healthy foods from each group to help them learn to like new tastes. And set some limits on food and drinks that have a lot of sugar and instead give them healthy snacks.
Making meals with your child
Cooking and eating together is the best way to teach kids healthy eating habits. Kids need meal routines, just like they need bedtime routines. So, make mealtime family time. Let your child help prepare healthy meals. Eat sitting together at the table. And turn off the TV and talk as a family.
Healthy foods on the go
What can you do if you’re not near a grocery store or farmer’s market? You can find healthy choices in a corner market or convenience store. Even fast-food restaurants offer some good choices for the whole family.
When your child is eating less
You may be concerned that your child is eating less than he used to. This is often a normal stage of development for a growing child.
April 07, 2020