Young children get hungry often and need regular meals and snacks to keep them going – and growing, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Here are a few tips to keep your little ones healthy through food:
• Offer food five to six times a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, with snacks in between.
• Make at least half their grains whole grains by offering 100 percent whole-grain cereals, breads and pasta.
• Choose a variety of protein foods such as seafood, beans, lean meats, poultry and eggs.
• Serve fat-free and low-fat milks. Yogurt and cheese also provide much needed calcium.
• Serve a variety of colorful choices. Brighten children’s plates with red, orange and dark-green vegetables. Fruit can be a quick and easy way to make meals and snacks healthier and more colorful.
• Encourage your child to be active and make it fun for the whole family. Walk, run and play with your child.
• Support teeth brushing. After snack, have your child brush his teeth or rinse his mouth with water to protect their teeth.
For a healthy snack choose foods from two different food groups. Here are a few healthy combinations that you can try:
• Peanut butter spread on an English muffin.
• Apple slices and peanut butter.
• Plain yogurt and fruit.
• Crackers with cheese.
• Unsweetened cereal with milk and fruit.
• Quesadilla (tortillas and melted cheese.)
• Green pepper strips and cottage cheese.
• Cut vegetables with hummus.
• Popcorn and peanuts for children age 3 and older.
Some Days Your Child Won’t Eat Much
Some days your child won’t eat much. That’s OK. Other days your child may eat a lot. It all works out if you let your child choose how much to eat and are serving good, healthy foods.
Be Patient with a Child Who Doesn’t Want to Eat
Your child may not be hungry, or may be tired, excited or not feeling well. Or maybe your child had too many snacks close to mealtime. Not to worry!
As long as your child is healthy, growing normally, and has plenty of energy, he or she is most likely getting the nutrients he needs.
Wait until the next planned meal or snack to offer food. Your child will eat when he or she is hungry.
Best Drinks for Kids
Here are recommendations for drinks for kids:
Offer milk or water with meals and snacks.
Offer water between meals and when your child is thirsty.
Offer water more often when it is hot and when your child is active.
Set a good example. Your children will drink what you drink.