Email to a friend    Printer Friendly Page

Talk with a health educator - MaineHealth Learning Resource Center
Western Maine Health - Feeding your child (Ages 1 to 11)
Hospital Services

Feeding your child (Ages 1 to 11)

Your child's diet can greatly affect his or her health. So starting from a very young age, make sure your child gets off to a good start with proper nutrition and good habits.

Encourage proper nutrition

  • Don't make food an issue; children will be naturally interested in food when:
    1. They are hungry
    2. Food is easy to eat
    3. Food tastes good.
  • One measuring tablespoon of cooked food for each year of your child's age is a serving size.
  • Select a variety of foods from each group daily.
  • Serve foods at about the same time each day.
  • Serve three small meals and two snacks per day instead of three large meals.
  • Use fun, child-sized dishes.
  • Make mealtime a pleasant time. Include children in family meals and table talk.
  • Let children help prepare cereal, sandwiches and snacks in the kitchen.
  • Children's appetites may decrease around age two. Their rate of growth also slows at this time.
  • Don't allow them to eat junk food because they balk at eating nutritious foods.
  • Offer your child a choice of healthy foods.
  • Be clever! Plan simple surprises and fun meals.
Avoid Obesity
  • Limit the amount of television that your children watch to no more than two hours per day.
  • Encourage daily exercise.
  • Encourage children to play outdoors all year long.
  • Don't carry a child who can walk. Where it is safe, encourage children to walk or ride a bike to various activities instead of riding in a car. Be sure that they walk in safe areas and wear a helmet when riding a bike or scooter.
  • Offer nutritious food from each of the basic food groups for each meal. Set a good example; children will imitate your food choices and meal habits.
  • Avoid junk food, except on special occasions. Children should not drink soda on a regular basis.
  • Fast foods are generally high in fat, salt and fillers; avoid frequent meals at fast food restaurants.
  • Milk and dairy products provide protein and calcium for growing bodies. If children refuse to drink milk, try to include cereal with milk, milk-based soups, cottage cheese, yogurt and other cheeses in their diets, or try flavored milks such as chocolate and strawberry.
  • Cut meat into very small pieces to avoid choking. Hot dogs should be sliced lengthwise and crosswise.
  • Avoid peanuts with all young children, and avoid peanut butter for all children less than two years of age.
  • Avoid feeding raw carrots and grapes to children less than four years of age. Cook and mash or cut vegetables. Cut grapes into four pieces. Peel and slice fruit for very young children and make sure to remove the core and seeds.
  • When shopping with children, encourage them to help select fruits and vegetables, especially those that they have never tried before.
  • Children can help prepare soups by adding vegetables, grains, beans and meat or topping them with cheese.

Interested in volunteering?
Are you at risk for skin cancer?
Health Information

181 Main Street, Norway, Maine 04268 | (207) 743-5933, TTY (for the hearing impaired): (207) 743-1597