Eating fruits and vegetables and being physically active are simple ways to make your family healthier. These healthy habits can help your kids:
Help your child learn to eat well and be active. Let your child choose what to eat. Parents put meals and snacks on the table that include food from the food groups. Sit with your child and eat from the foods you offer everyone. They learn from watching you eat. Children will decide what to eat and how much from what you offer.
Picky eating is a normal part of raising a preschooler – as children learn to be more independent and their appetite and growth slows, they become more selective and may even be picky. Ages 2 to 6 are prime years for picky eating, but it should slowly disappear as your child ages. Even as your child becomes a picky eater, refrain from giving in to their food requests and continue serving meals and snacks with a variety of food-group foods. Compromise by including at least two food-group foods during a meal that your child is likely to eat, such as milk, whole grain pasta and cooked peas.
Pressuring your child to eat “just one more bite” can work against you. Kids will see they have the power and will eat less. Let them take the lead on what and how much they eat. You should offer at least one safe food that you know your child usually likes. Once you serve the meal or snack, do not offer different foods.
Tips for picky eaters
When was the last time you sat down for a meal with your family? Was it last night, last week or last month? For some families, eating together is reserved for special events and holidays, like birthdays or Thanksgiving. These special occasion meals allow families to connect with each other, strengthen family ties and pass on family cultural traditions. When family or friends come together to share a meal, they are sharing more than just food. Shared meals create time for connection and learning. Your family will eat better when you eat together.
Tips for family eating
Get your child on the path to healthy eating. Cook together. Eat together. Talk together. Make meal time family time.
A great way to get your preschool child to eat healthy food is to offer the healthy foods frequently. And one way to get them interested in healthy foods is to get them involved in shopping and cooking.
Ideas to get your preschoolers helping with foods and eating healthy:
Smart snacking is a great way for your young children and preschoolers to meet their daily nutrient requirements that they could be missing at meal times. Children need energy throughout the day, and thinking of snacks as “mini-meals” with foods from the food groups provides that energy and adds nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
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Calfresh Healthy Living recognizes the importance of focusing on preschool age group as part of nutrition education and obesity prevention efforts. Early childhood is an important time to help establish healthy habits and to expose children to a variety of healthy foods. Education can also be focused on parents and other adult caregivers (such as childcare providers, pre-school teachers, aides, afterschool program leads, etc.). Del Norte CalFresh Healthy Living have been working with the partners in Early Childhood settings; Head Start sites, State Preschools, WIC, First 5, Family Resource Center of the Redwoods, and Child Care Council by providing evidence-based nutrition education and physical activity promotion and opportunities directly or through train the trainer models to the preschool aged children and families, child care providers and educators.
Del Norte CalFresh Healthy Living supports developing of healthy and active early care and education environments. This includes aspects such as serving and promoting healthy foods and beverages, implementing healthy celebrations and meetings, and providing multiple opportunities for daily physical activity—all supported by healthy site policies and systems. According to the CDC, implementing wellness policies and training caregivers in best practices for physical activity and nutrition can promote healthy weight for young children in child care settings. Therefore, all ECE programs should have customized physical activity and nutrition templates that include the centers’ physical activity and nutrition practices. Once adopted, make the template easily accessible and available for everyone.
Early Care and Education Physical Activity and Nutrition Policy and Templates: The Early Care and Education Physical Activity and Nutrition Policy and Templates are customizable and child care providers can use the templates in their entirety or can adapt, and/or adopt portions of the templates as desired.
Early Care and Education Physical Activity Toolkit for Preschool-Aged Children: The Early Care and Education Physical Activity Toolkit for Preschool-Aged Children provides practical tools, including easy-to-use activities, skill cards, and planning suggestions for use with young children ages 3 to 5 years old.