Feeding Children 2-12 years

As children grow from toddlers into teenagers, their nutrient needs change. Follow the tips below to ensure your child is learning about good nutrition and getting the nutrients they need to grow up healthy!

Nutrition Notes:

  • Children learn eating habits by watching and imitating their family members.  Be a role model of healthy eating by shopping for, cooking and eating nutritious foods. See the food skills section for ideas. Teach your kids about food and nutrition by getting them involved with cooking and grocery shopping. See Eat Right Ontario for ideas.
  • Family members who eat together make healthier food choices! Turn off the television during mealtimes– eating while distracted can lead to mindless eating, and overeating for people of all ages. Make mealtimes enjoyable by sharing healthy food and conversation. For more information on family meals click here.
  • Children come in all different shapes and sizes- your primary care team will track your child’s growth to ensure they are growing well. For more information, see this handout from Dietitians of Canada, “Is my child growing well?”
  • Children benefit from being active; they need at least one hour of physical activity every day. For information on how to fuel your active child for sports, see Dietitians of Canada Sports Nutrition.
  • Picky eater? Children may experience a phase of selective eating. But picky eating should not continue for extended periods of time. Click here for Ellyn Satter-5 steps to intervene with extreme picky eaters.
  • Kids who eat breakfast learn better. Balanced breakfasts include a food from each of the 4 food groups. (See Canada's Food Guide for details)
  • Choose water most often to quench thirst. Milk or milk alternatives are also healthy beverages- kids need about 2-3 cups per day. Juices and soft drinks should be limited because of their high sugar content (no more than ½ cup or 4 oz of fruit juice/day). Try fresh fruit instead of juices-fresh fruits give more nutrition than juice.
  • How much food does a child need? Smaller stomachs mean smaller portions more often. See How to build a healthy Toddler (age 2-3) or Preschooler (ages 3-5) for age appropriate versions of Canada’s Food Guide

Nutrition Resources for Parents

In Your Community:

Find a Dietitian

For More Information:

Wave: Brown Bag Special Nutritious Ideas for your child's lunch bag

Dietitians of Canada has a collection of articles

Eat Right Ontario

Physical Activity Tips Children 5-11yrs

How to Feed Children: Ellyn Satter

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