Week of the Young Child

by Donna Quirk, MBA RD LD
LMC Clinical Nutrition Manager

We are currently in the Week of the Young Child™, an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The purpose of the Week of the Young Child™ is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families.  This year’s theme is Early Years are Learning Years®.

Nutrition plays such an important role in a child’s normal growth and development.  Guiding a child to develop healthy eating habits increases the chances that they will maintain a healthy weight throughout life.  And finally, what fits so well with this year’s theme is how essential nutrition is to support learning.

So, here are some tips to help your child –

  • Toddlers need smaller portions than adults.  What’s a quick way to estimate?  Serve a tablespoon of food per year of age.  So a 2 year old should be served 2 tablespoons of the foods being served at a meal.
  • Emphasize whole fruits instead of juice.  Try melon balls, mandarin oranges, and frozen berries.
  • Whole milk is recommended only up to the age of 2 years old.  Choose low-fat milk or yogurt and reduced fat cheese after the age of 2 years.
  • Have a picky eater?  Relax and create a calm setting.  Limit distractions – turn off the T.V.  Provide regular meals and snacks.  Serve a variety of colorful nutrient rich foods.  Picky eaters may not eat perfectly every day, but over several days they do just fine!
  • Do not skip breakfast!  Eating breakfast helps school aged kids focus and concentrate better in the classroom and perform better on math, reading and standardized tests.

For more information, recipes, and meal ideas visit www.kidseatright.org

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