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HEAT: Healthy Eating & Activity Together

Early Childhood Parent Tips

Healthy

  • Review your child's growth charts with your health care provider.
  • Be a good role model and make healthy eating and activity together a goal for all family members.
  • Remember this is a time that children are becoming more independent.

Eating

  • Provide healthy choices for meals and snacks:
    • Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. (Approximate serving size for age equals 1-2 tablespoons per year of age.)
    • Eat 3 or more servings of whole grain foods per day. (Approximate serving size for age equals 1-2 tablespoons per year of age.)
    • Limit milk intake to no more than 16 ounces per day.
    • Use low-fat or non-fat milk only after 2 years of age.
    • Use soft margarine rather than lard, butter or stick margarine.
    • Give 100% fruit juice (not fruit drinks), but only 4-6 ounces maximum per day.
  • Your child's intake should meet his/her growth and activity calorie requirements - or energy in equals energy out.
  • Your child may not like a new food the first few times he/she tries it, so offer it many times to give the opportunity to learn to accept it and like it.
  • Use food only to meet nutritional needs and satisfy hunger, not as a reward or to comfort your child.
  • Toddlers often have an appetite slump compared to previously, which is OK if they meet their growth and energy needs.
  • Limit fast food meals to no more than twice per week.
  • Offer healthy traditional foods enjoyed in your culture (e.g., beans, corn, tortillas, fruits, and vegetables).

Activity

  • Plan for at least 60 minutes daily of active, free play in short periods of time.
  • Limit TV, video and computer time to less than 2 hours daily if your child is older than 2 years.
  • Discrouage TV and other screen time if your child is younger than 2 years of age.
  • No TV during meals.
  • No TV in your child's bedroom.

Together

  • Schedule times for family meals together.
  • Respect that your child is responsible for whether to eat and how much to eat, and you are responsible for what food is available, and when and where.
  • Don't let TV advertisements influence food selection.
  • Support healthy food choices and daily physical activity at your child's preschool and child care.
  • Help your community develop safe places and inexpensive physical activity opportunities for all families.


Tips provided by the HEAT Resource Kit. © 2006 National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and the NAPNAP Foundation, Cherry Hill, NJ.

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