Here are a few Dos and Don’ts you might find helpful

Things to do…

Ask your kids to help prepare meals

Have your child help in the kitchen by stirring batter and adding spices.

Always have nutrient-dense foods on hand

Limit the amount of sweets and fatty foods you keep on hand. Instead, keep plenty of healthy snacks around, such as cut-up fruit and veggies and low-fat cheeses and yogurt.

Balance treats with smart nutrition

Moderation is key when it comes to sweets and fatty foods. Keep a variety of snack options around to meet nutrition needs for your child. Try to include 2-3 different food groups into each snack occasion.

Introduce fruits and veggies

Encourage your kids to enjoy fruits and veggies by exposing them to a wide variety from an early age. Learn more about the My Plate Plan for kids and how vegetables can play a role in child nutrition.

Have a positive attitude

Make mealtimes enjoyable by creating a positive, calm environment

Have your kids watch and learn

It's true — parents are powerful role models.

  • Model healthy eating yourself
  • Explain the importance of certain foods
  • Praise their willingness to accept healthy foods

Minimize distractions

Minimize distractions and turn off the television during meals.

Offer a variety

Don't assume your kids won’t like a certain food. Keep offering a variety! You might be surprised by what your child will try.

Set an example

Make sure your child has a chance to see older siblings, cousins, or friends eating a variety of foods. Kids will often follow their lead.

Use their favorite role models

Tell your kids that eating certain fruits and vegetables will help them be like their favorite characters. Kids love modeling what they see in movies or books.

Use utensils

Your child might be more interested in eating with a spoon or fork, especially if an older sibling is using utensils, too.

Things to avoid…

Being a picky eater yourself

Show your kids that you like a wide variety of healthy foods and give them many different options to try.

Forcing food on your kids

Let them watch you enjoy the food first. Then have them try it so they know it’s their choice to eat it.

Losing patience

Kids may need to try a new food many times before accepting it. Offer small portions combined with their favorite foods. Don’t force it.

An “all-or-nothing” policy

  • Forget the Clean Plate Club
  • Encourage them to just take a bite
  • The more often they try, the better

Getting emotional

  • Don’t beg, plead, or bargain with your child to try something
  • Try again another day
  • Keep trying, but don’t get hung up on it.

Rushing into skim milk

Don’t give reduced fat milk to children younger than 2 unless your doctor prescribes it. Your kids should continue to drink whole milk until age 2. After 2, kids can be switched to low fat milk (1% or skim).

Two more helpful don’ts

  • Don’t over-season food with salt or keep the shaker on the table
  • Don’t add unnecessary sugar or use food as a bribe