Making Sure Your Child Gets What They Need Nutritionally
Making sure children get the right amount of the right foods is important. Nutrition affects behavior, sleeping patterns, growth, and even brain development. A healthy diet helps children grow and learn. It also helps prevent obesity and weight-related diseases, such as diabetes. To give your child a nutritious diet:
- Make half of what is on your child’s plate fruits and vegetables
- Choose healthy sources of protein, such as lean meat, nuts, and eggs
- Serve whole-grain breads and cereals because they are high in fiber. Reduce refined grains.
- Broil, grill, or steam foods instead of frying them
- Limit fast food and junk food
- Offer water or milk instead of sugary fruit drinks and sodas
Having a picky eater is one of the biggest struggles when it comes to helping your child receive proper nutrition. Picky eating is a very typical behavior for preschoolers as they begin to assert their independence. Try these strategies:
- Let your child be the “produce picker” at the grocery store. Let them help choose the fruits and vegetables you will take home and eat.
- Offer choices. Instead of saying “Would you like broccoli for dinner?” say, “Help me choose which vegetable we will make with dinner. Should we make broccoli or cauliflower?”
- Let your child serve themselves initially. Children are more likely to eat foods when they put their own food on their plate and make their own decisions about what to eat.
- Offer the same foods for the whole family. Don’t be a “short-order cook”, making a different meal for your preschooler. Your child will be okay if they eat a little less at first.
- Let your child help in the kitchen. Children take pride in projects they helped to prepare. They are more likely to try a specific dish if they helped to create it.
If your child continues to be a picky eater even after trying various strategies, you should consult with your pediatrician to rule out any underlying medical causes, such as reflux.