General Guidelines for Feeding Children
Golden Rule: Your job is to provide healthy, nutritious food in a pleasant, structured environment. The child's job is to decide how much to eat.
Healthy Eating in a Healthy Environment
- Be a good role model. Eat good quality, nutritious foods yourself. Avoid junk food and sweets.
- Make mealtimes pleasant by being relaxed but involved. Pay attention, talk to your children, and sit with them. Avoid trying to control.
- Keep a regular schedule of meals and snacks: 3 meals a day and 2 or 3 snacks scheduled midway between meals. This helps to establish good habits and promotes a better appetite.
- Don't use food to bribe, reward or punish. These actions encourage unhealthy attitudes toward food. For example, people commonly use sweets to change a child's behavior, which causes those foods to become special and more desirable in kids' minds.
- Serve a wide variety of foods—whole grains, beans, fruit, vegetables, pastas and dairy products. Don't worry if your child doesn't eat a great variety every day—look at the bigger picture of a full week.
- Serve nutritious snacks—fruit, cut up vegetables, cheese, whole grain crackers, peanut butter, yogurt or frozen fruit bars.
- Limit high-sugar, high-salt, and high-fat foods.
- Breakfast is very important. Studies show that school children who eat breakfast are more alert, have longer attention spans and play and work better.