Body: Help Your Child Eat Well

  • Serve healthy meals and snacks. Your child has a small stomach and can eat very little at one time. He needs to eat often. This can mean three meals and a nourishing snack between meals. Canada's Food Guide has lots of ideas for healthy foods that will help your child grow.
  • Some foods are better than others. Try to limit "other" foods like cookies, pop, and chips. These foods do not give a growing body what it needs. They can keep your child from eating enough of the foods that she needs to grow and develop.
  • How much is enough? You may be surprised by how little food your toddler or preschooler needs to eat each day to be healthy. Many parents are not sure how much is enough or too much. Remember, it is your job to provide the right amount of healthy food at regular meals and snack-times. It is your child's job to decide if and how much to eat. Help your child learn to eat only when hungry and to stop when full.

Key Message
If you have concerns about how much your child is eating, talk to your health care provider.

Fun & Easy Activities

Food That Looks Fun Enough to Eat

Keep your child interested in eating by making the meal look fun. You can arrange food on the plate to look like something else. Find a funny name for your creation, or ask your child to think of a name. A 4 or 5 year old can help make these "recipes."

Here are some ideas:

  • Ants on a log - Cut a piece of celery about 6 cm long. Fill it with peanut butter, hummus or cheese. Put a few raisins on top of the filling. Do they look like ants sitting on a log?
  • Funny face pizza - You can buy a small pizza crust about 15 cm across. Or use a piece of pita bread. Spread some tomato sauce on the crust and grate some cheese on top. If your child is old enough, she can help you do this. Now make a face on the pizza. For example, to make eyes, you can use two tomato slices. For the mouth, try slices of green pepper. For a nose, you can use a small tomato. Put the pizza in the oven till the cheese melts.
  • Sandwich shapes - Your child will like your sandwiches better if you cut them into interesting shapes. Try cutting some triangles and some circles. You can use a cookie cutter to make heart-shaped sandwiches. Then arrange the shapes on the plate in fun ways.

Playing with Food

Young children can learn to recognize healthy foods. Cut out pictures of food from ads. Look for coloured flyers in grocery stores. Find pictures of vegetables, fruits, bread, cereal, rice, meat, beans, cheese, and milk. Put all the pictures on the table and ask your child to find food he eats for breakfast.

Put these pictures in a pile together. Ask which foods would make a good lunch. Get your child to put them in a pile. Talk about which foods help his body grow.

Now add pictures of cookies, pop and chips. These foods do not give a growing body what it needs. Explain why you do not serve them often.

Look at Canada's Food Guide for more ideas. Soon your child will be helping you plan healthy meals and snacks.


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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

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