As parents we have so many worries. Are our kids getting enough sleep? Are they hitting developmental milestones at the right time? Are they eating the right things and creating good nutritional habits?
Pre-schoolers can be notoriously picky eaters. The newness of adult food has worn off, and they are figuring out what they like and what they don’t like. It can be an exciting, yet sometimes frustrating, time for both parents and kids.
Children feel better when they eat well. Food provides the nourishment they need to grow, play and learn. As a parent it is our responsibility to provide nutritious meals in an environment that will help them become healthy eaters.
So how do we do that? The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips that are geared specifically to four and five year olds, but they can be applied to children of all ages.
Offer a Variety of Healthy Foods
According to Healthychildren.org a wider variety gives kids a balance of the nutrients and vitamins they need to grow. That includes fresh vegetables and fruits, low fat dairy products and lean protein such as chicken, turkey or fish.
Do Away with the “Clean Plate Club”
Serve age appropriate serving sizes, perhaps even smaller. They can always ask for more, if they are still hungry. Don’t force children to finish what is on their plate. They need to learn what it means for them to be “full”.
Have regular meal times and if snacking is necessary, offer healthy options. Children who “graze” throughout the day are often times mindlessly eating and may be developing bad habits
Offer Milk or Water with Meals
Milk provides vitamin D and calcium. Water is the best source of hydration.
Avoid offering fruit juice. It frequently provides extra sugar and calories that aren’t needed.
Make Mealtime a Priority
Mealtime is important family time. A well planned meal can serve both nutritional and familial needs. Make it an important part of the fabric of your family life. Plan meals together to create healthy habits.
For more information check out: healthychildren.org