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Healthy Eating for Children - Changing Your Family's Eating Habits

Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods from all food groups. It means choosing fewer foods that have lots of fats and sugar. But it does not mean that your child cannot eat desserts or other treats now and then.

With a little planning, you can create a structure that gives your child (and you) the freedom to make healthy eating choices. Think of this as planning not just for the kids but for everyone in your family.

Getting started with your young child

  • At meals, serve milk. (Children under 12 months of age should not drink cow's milk.) Most children need whole milk between 1 and 2 years of age. But your doctor may recommend 2% milk if your child is overweight or if there is a family history of obesity, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Over the age of 2, serve fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • When trying new foods at a meal, be sure to also include a food that your child likes. Don't be discouraged if it takes several tries before your child actually eats a new food. It may take as many as 15 times or more before your child will try a new food.
  • Juice does not have the valuable fiber that whole fruit has. Unless the label says the drink has only 100% juice, beware that many fruit drinks are just water, a little juice flavoring, and a lot of added sugar. If you must give juice, water it down. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no more than 4 fl oz (120 mL) to 6 fl oz (180 mL) of 100% fruit juice a day for children 1 to 6 years old.2 This means ½ cup to ¾ cup. Juice isn't recommended for babies 0 to 6 months.
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