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Health & Parenting

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Healthy Eating for Children - Helping Your Child to Eat Well

Adjusting your approach based on your child's age

Feeding your infant. From birth, infants follow their internal hunger and fullness cues. They eat when they're hungry, and they stop eating when they're full. Experts recommend that newborns be fed on demand.

Feeding your toddler/preschooler. As you introduce your young child to new foods, you are encouraging a love of variety, texture, and taste. This is important, because the more adventurous your child feels about foods, the more balanced and nutritious his or her weekly intake will be. Remember that you may need to present a new or different food a number of times before your child will be comfortable trying it. This is normal. The best approach is to offer the new food in a relaxed manner without pressuring your child.

Feeding your teen. When your child becomes a teen, he or she has a lot more food choices outside the home. You are still responsible for providing balanced meals in the home. Family mealtimes become especially important.

actionset.gif Healthy Eating: Helping Your Child Learn Healthy Eating Habits

Children have special vitamin and mineral needs. For example:

  • Infants need a source of iron. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends iron supplementation in breast-fed babies starting at 4 months of age for full-term babies and by 1 month of age for preterm babies. Use iron-fortified formula (for formula-fed babies). And when you start your infant on solid foods, include high-iron infant cereals and/or meat baby foods. Infants may need a daily vitamin D supplement. Talk with your doctor about how much and what sources of vitamin D are right for your child.
  • Children ages 6 months to 16 years may need a fluoride supplement. Normal amounts of fluoride added to public water supplies and bottled water are safe for children and adults. If your child needs extra fluoride, your dentist may recommend supplements. Use these supplements only as directed. And keep them out of reach of your child. Too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child's teeth.
  • Girls ages 9 to 18 years need more calcium and may not get enough calcium from the foods they eat.
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