Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size

    Tips to Help Your Child Eat Better, Live Healthier

    By Camille Peri
    WebMD Feature

    You can tell children they should eat well and make healthy choices. Or you can show them that it's fun and feels good -- and they'll be more likely to do it. Here’s how:

    Up the Fun Factor

    Let children play with their food. Babies aren't the only ones who like to play with food. School-age children do, too. So make healthy snacks interactive.

    "Serving a dip with fruit and vegetables encourages kids to eat foods they would normally push aside," says Jennifer McDaniel, RDN, LD. She’s a dietitian, sports nutritionist, and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

    Have kids roll a banana in peanut butter and granola. Or, make faces on cereal and open-faced sandwiches with peaches, raisins, tomatoes, and other fruit or vegetables.

    Feed their creativity. Kids love creative food. Instead of handing them a piece of fresh fruit, put it in an ice cream cone.

    Or, make an instant sailboat snack: Spear a triangle of cheese with a toothpick and stick it in a halved hard-boiled egg. It's just as fast as putting an egg and a piece of cheese on a plate.

    Make It Easy

    Show kids that you can eat healthy in a hurry:

    Give them grab-and-go snack options. Cut up fruits and vegetables, and have them front and center in the refrigerator. Have snacks like string cheese, trail mix, or whole-grain crackers easy to find and grab, too. Buy them in single-serving-size packages or make your own.

    Cut back on fast food. No time to cook tonight? No problem.

    "Have a list of three to five things that you can make quickly, and always keep the ingredients in the house," McDaniel says.

    Some quick and healthy meals: bean burritos, vegetable omelets, tuna melts (with grapes or cranberries mixed in). In a pinch, make a meal of whole wheat crackers, rolled up deli meat, baby carrots with ranch dressing, and fruit.

    Make It a Family Affair

    As you’ve probably noticed, your children are more likely to do what you do than what you say -- whether it's good or bad. So set a good example by being active and eating healthy. Other ways to get the whole family involved:

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
    mother and daughter talking
    child brushing his teeth
    Sipping hot tea
    boy drinking from cereal bowl
    hand holding a cell phone
    rl with friends
    girl being bullied
    Child with adhd