Creating a Healthy Eating Environment
  • Make sure children are comfortable by having comfortable chairs that allow the child to reach the table and by using the proper utensil size
  • Create a special place at the table by having them design their own place mat or centerpieces and using special cups, dishes or straws
  • Practice proper hygiene by washing hands before eating and brushing teeth after meals
  • Eating with the children will give them a role model to teach them healthy eating habits, help them develop social skills, and set a good example
  • Consider the child’s development by offering age appropriate foods, encouraging use of open cup for all beverages, and setting appropriate limits and expectations
  • Offer small amounts of food, too much food can be overwhelming. An appropriate child size serving would be about ¼ to ½ of a food guide serving, depending on the child’s age. This will allow you to offer them a greater variety of food
  • Be consistent with expectations. Decide upon table manners and stick to them. Once children know what is expected of them, they are more likely to cooperate. Have a list of table expectations and make sure the children know what they are
  • Do not use bribes. Children who are bribed or coaxed to try a new food are less likely to go back to that food than those allowed to accept or reject it on their own

Children who are pressured to eat often eat less. Respect children’s appetites by avoiding comments like these:

  • “Just take one more bite.”
  • “No dessert until you eat your meat.”
  • “Good boy. You ate all your peas.”
  • “No more bread until you eat some meat.”
  • “Finish your milk. It’s good for you.”
  • “How do you know you don’t like it unless you try it?”

Source: Eat Right Be Active. A guide for parents and caregivers of preschoolers ages 3-5, Nutrition Resource Centre, OPHA, 2009.

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