Nutrition Tips for Parents & Caregivers
One important way to help prevent obesity and overweight in children is to teach healthy eating habits and provide opportunities for physical activity from an early age. As children grow, their needs vary.
First Year Foods and Feeding
Breastfeed:Breast milk is the healthiest food you can give your baby. It also reduces the risk of childhood obesity.
Delay solids:Babies are often ready to experiment with solid food by 4 months of age, but nutrition experts recommend waiting until 6 months.
Watch the mealtime signals:Back off from feeding if your baby purses his or her lips, turns away or appears to lose interest in the spoonful of cereal or strained veggies. Help a baby learn to listen to his or her body's cues. Likewise, never force your baby to finish a bottle.
Offer a variety of baby foods:Take advantage of all the flavors out there, especially in fruits and vegetables.
Tips for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Make fruits and vegetables a priority: Nutritionists recommend that toddlers eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Aim to include at least one with every meal, including snack time.
Keep portion sizes small:Toddlers don't require many calories, so it's important to serve age-appropriate servings. The general rule of thumb is one tablespoon of each food for each year of age.
Stick to a regular meal schedule:Toddlers as young as 1 year old should eat three meals and just two snacks daily, three to four hours apart.
Offer a variety of foods:Offer healthy food choices. Children may need to be exposed to a new food more than once before accepting it.
Keep fresh fruits and vegetables on-hand.
Remove from your household all chips, soda and candy bars. They're okay as a special treat but they should not be a regular staple in your food cabinet.
Avoid fried foods.
Make healthy meals in large quantities and freeze for a later time. This way, when you're too busy to cook, you can just defrost a healthy meal and have dinner ready in no time.
Always eat breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day, not just for children but for the entire family.