Inconsistent Eating Habits
Until the age of 4 or even 5, many children continue to eat inconsistently. Your son/daughter may eat endlessly one day and next to nothing the next. Be assured that this is normal eating for toddlers and preschoolers. Some children eat very nutritious foods some days and then have days when a takeout hamburger is the best you can do. Your child’s diet over time is what counts. Your responsibility as a parent is to offer your child healthy, nutritious foods most often. How much he/she eats or even whether he/she eats is up to him/her. Know that you are not alone; most children at this age eat just like your son/daughter!
Fruits and Veggies
Many children don’t always meet the Canada’s Food Guide recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake.‡
Fruits and vegetables provide your child with vitamins, minerals and fibre that he/she needs for a healthy body. So, what can you do to help your child eat more fruits and veggies? Be a good role model and be sure to get 7–10 servings yourself.
Try new fruits and veggies that you haven’t tried before or let your child pick a “new” one out at the store. Aim for 1 new fruit or vegetable each week.
For dessert, try cutting fruit pieces with chocolate sauce or whipped cream for dipping.
Children usually prefer their vegetables raw. Always keep washed and sliced carrots, cucumbers, celery, green and red peppers, grape tomatoes and broccoli on hand with a salad dressing dip for when children get the munchies (especially while mom or dad is preparing dinner).
Meat and Alternatives
Meat and alternatives provide our bodies with essential nutrients including protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins.1 Children who have limited intake of foods from this group may be at risk for iron deficiency. Try to be sure that your child is offered foods from this food group at least twice a day.
Eggs and peanut butter are good options for young children.
Make your own chicken fingers and fish sticks at home.
Ground beef based meals such as tacos, spaghetti with meat sauce, sloppy joes and chili are often considered kid-friendly.
For some reason, brown just doesn’t look as appealing as white to some children! The best advice for children who prefer refined carbohydrates is to limit their intake of sweet foods and sugar.
Avoid pre-sweetened cereals — putting a teaspoon of sugar on top of whole grain cereal still provides considerably less sugar overall than the amount children get with the sweetened ones.
Try to limit your child’s intake of pop and fruit drinks to treats on special occasions only.
Continue to offer your child whole grains — make a sandwich with 1 slice of white bread and 1 slice of brown.
Try whole-wheat pasta and brown rice with meals.
Dairy for Healthy Bones
Children need 2 cups of fluid milk daily to meet their need for vitamin D.‡ Milk and alternatives are also important sources of protein, calcium and riboflavin. Calcium is in our diets to help maintain healthy bones and teeth.2 If your child doesn’t drink milk, try puddings, milk shakes, flavoured milk or cream soups. Most children enjoy cheese, yogurt and ice cream so don’t give up even if he/she won’t drink milk.
Dairy for Healthy Bones
Children need two cups of fluid milk daily to meet their need for vitamin D. Milk and milk products are also important sources of protein, calcium and riboflavin. Calcium is necessary in our diets to help ensure healthy bones and teeth. If your child doesn’t drink milk, try puddings, milk shakes, flavoured milk or cream soups. Most children enjoy cheese, yogurt and ice cream so don’t give up even if he/she won’t drink milk.