These tips can help you strike the right balance to achieve a healthy weight for your kids.
Check up on weight at checkups. Your child’s doctor will probably track your child’s weight each year by using a measurement called the body mass index. The BMI evaluates your child’s weight in relation to height. If your child is gaining too much or too little weight, consult the doctor or a registered dietitian.
Start with the basics. A healthy weight for kids starts at home. Provide meals and snacks that include a variety of nutritious foods from the five MyPyramid food groups, and encourage kids to get at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Learn about Smart Snacking for Kids and Ideas to Get Kids Up and Moving.
Let kids self-regulate from the start. Toddlers and preschoolers are great at tuning in to their tummies to know when they’ve had enough to eat. Let them decide when they want more food or when they’ve had enough. This sets the stage for nutritious eating habits throughout life.
Skip the food fights. For children of any age, don’t insist that they clean their plates and don’t forbid foods like cookies or candy, which might make kids want them even more. Instead, provide occasional treats in reasonable portion sizes.
Keep calories under control. Encourage appropriate Portion Sizes for Kids. Also, trim extra calories by serving lean meats, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and sugar-free versions of items such as yogurt and soft drinks.
Focus on positive choices, not a number on a scale. Rather than fixating on weight, encourage your kids to engage in healthy behaviors. Teach kids that good eating and physical activity help them stay strong and healthy and feel good. Give them positive feedback for making smart choices, like choosing fruit for a snack or playing outside instead of watching TV.
Make smart living a family affair. Work as a team on activities such as meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, housecleaning and yard work. These activities teach kids valuable life skills and give you an opportunity to shine as a role model. Have fun, too, by taking walks, going swimming and playing active games together.
Foster a realistic body image. Kids come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s normal for their bodies to change as they grow and develop. Reassure them that there’s no “perfect” body size and that you love them as they are. To build their confidence and self-esteem, point out their special talents such as being a math whiz or a jump rope champ.
Be a positive role model. Parents need to set an example by following a healthy diet and exercising.