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Try to serve your child foods from all the food groups every day. Give your child many kinds of healthy foods from each group to help learn to like new tastes. And set some limits on food and drinks that have a lot of sugar.
Do you want to know more about eating from all the food groups? Here are some specific foods to try:
Vegetables. Leafy greens (like lettuce and spinach), tomatoes, carrots, peppers, squash, and corn.
Fruits. Apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, watermelon, and pears.
Whole grains. Brown rice; breads, crackers, and pasta that say “whole wheat” on the package, not just “wheat.” If the first words on the list of ingredients are “whole wheat,” “whole corn,” or “whole oats,” it is better for your family.
Lean meats. Chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef, and pork.
Dairy. Milk, cheese, and yogurt. These can be high in fat. Look for words “low-fat” or “nonfat” on the package. Eating less fat can help kids maintain a healthy weight as they grow.
When you stick to a few good ideas, you won’t feel like there’s too much to keep track of. Here are three ideas to get you started:
Have your child drink more water and milk. Water doesn’t have to be boring! Offer kids fizzy water, add an orange slice, or make ice cubes with fun shapes. Growing kids also need milk. Milk gives kids calcium for strong bones and healthy growth. Be sure to give kids under age 2 whole milk, not skim.
Add more fruits and vegetables to your family’s table. Fruits and vegetables can taste and look good. They can be easy to prepare and serve. Buy fruits and vegetables fresh, frozen, or canned. Or, try growing your own. Serve fresh fruits and vegetables raw. Kids often like the taste of sliced raw fruits and vegetables. Vegetables can also be steamed, microwaved, or cut up and mixed into stews and soups.
Limit foods and drinks that are high in sugar, salt, or both. These include pastries, candy, chips, cookies, cheese-flavored snacks, ice cream, soda, fruit juice drinks, and sports drinks. Offer more water and milk instead of soda, juice, or sports drinks. Offer fruits for desserts and snacks when kids want something sweet. Limit salty snacks. And look for low-sodium or salt-free foods when possible.