Though it’s not groundbreaking news, the preschool years are the most important time for parents to teach about a healthy diet, by offering a variety of food choices, having regular meal and snack times, and modelling good health themselves.
“Parents face many feeding obstacles as their children reach 2 years old,” said Judith Levine, R.D., M.S. “A child’s appetite may decrease as growth slows, outside influences from television or other children start to impact a child’s food choices, and some children start to decline foods and beverages they once enjoyed as they start using utensils or switch from bottle to sippy cup.”
“Despite these challenges, parents need to pay close attention to their children’s eating behaviors and teach him or her to eat healthy. Habits formed during the preschool years will impact health and wellness over a lifetime.”
Levine notes mealsmatter.org as a useful resource to help parents to do this. The site includes a series of information specifically for parents with preschool-age children, such as:
- A developmental chart detailing common eating patterns and nutritional needs at different stages of growth;
- Downloadable tip sheets offering tools for fostering healthy eating habits; and
- Numerous nutritious, kid-friendly recipes such as a fresh fruit burrito, creamy yogurt vegetable dip and hand-held ham and cheese wraps.
Helping children to learn what foods are healthy and not-so healthy early on it life will reap benefits for their whole life.