Eat together as often as you can as a family
Good eating habits begin at home as a family. Make meals a social occasion, time to have a chat and catch up on what has happened in the day. Don’t have distractions, such as the TV on.
Let your child practice using a spoon, fork and knife, so when they go to school they're able to use them appropriately. Use a small size plate, the plate should be no bigger than two of your child’s hands together.
Look at First Steps Nutrition website for an idea of what an appropriate portion size is for a child or the Henry website.
It's normal for children to eat lots one day and less another day or more at one meal than another, when looking at what your child is eating look at a week as a whole rather than one day to get a better idea.
Let your child tell you when they're full, do not force them to keep eating even if they still have food left on their plate as this can lead to stressful meal times and may cause problems later in life with over eating.
- The Eatwell Guide can help you with meal planning and portion sizes.
Milk and water are the best drinks for children. Preschool children should practice using an open cup ready for school.
Keeping sugary snacks and drinks to a minimum and avoiding them between meals will help your child have a healthy diet and help protect their teeth as well.
The government recommends all children from 6 months to 5 years old are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D daily.
- Offer your child three meals and two snacks a day, avoid grazing as this can affect a child’s appetite
- It can take 15 times of a child trying a new food before they may decide they like it so keep offering the same new foods over and over again
- Offer healthy food choices on the table and let your child choose what they want to eat from the choice
- Put a small amount of the new food on their plate or on a separate plate next to them to try
- Don’t over faze them by giving full plate of food - just put a small amount of food on an small sized plate and you can give more if required
- After 20 minutes take their plate away if they're not eating it
- Keep a diary of what your child is eating over a week so you can clearly see what they're eating
- Contact your GP if you would like advice or support around your child’s eating habits
- Do not give your child attention for not eating - this is very hard, but the more attention they get the worse meal times may become
Derbyshire County Council offer HENRY courses for parents, carers and professionals to help get children off to the best start.
Fussy eaters support
- Ask children to be involved in setting the table
- Create place mats for everyone
- Arrange food into faces, shapes, hearts, patterns
- Encourage children to get involved with making the food, they may make them more likely to try it
- Role model good eating habits through sitting and eating with your child at meal times, and trying different foods yourselves
- HENRY - recipes for each meal
- First Steps Nurtrition Trust - infants and under-5s information on packed lunches, portion size and veganism
- NHS Change4Life - recipe ideas and lots more
- Derbyshire County Council - workshops supporting healthy eating for the really young