Kids whose parents encourage them to eat well and be physically active are more likely to stay a healthy weight as they grow. And that means they’ll be fitter, healthier and better able to learn as well as less likely to develop health problems later in life.
The most important things to do are to model good food choices and offer a variety of healthy foods in reasonable portions. Let your child help with food shopping and preparation, too — they’ll be more willing to eat and try new foods that they have been involved in choosing and making. Try to eat meals together as often as possible. Eating together helps teach children to be mindful eaters and eat more slowly so they can detect feelings of hunger and fullness more accurately.
Be cautious of calorie-counting and avoid “good” and “bad” labels for foods; that can cause kids to rebel against certain foods. Instead, talk about the kinds of meals and snacks that are best for your family’s overall health, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats.
Keep your child’s regular well-child visits; they can help you know whether your child is at a healthy weight for their age, sex and size. Encourage your child to get enough sleep; poor quality sleep is linked to obesity in children. Limit screen time, especially for children younger than 2; and remove all screens from the bedroom at night.