HEAT: Healthy Eating & Activity Together
Early Childhood Parent Tips
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.