8 Easy Ways to Encourage a Healthy Weight for Your Child

August 31, 2022 Children

All parents want to raise healthy children. While there is no right or wrong way to do this, we know that certain actions, like encouraging them to be active and have healthy eating habits can help. The early years of feeding your child set the foundation for lifelong eating habits, food preferences and weight.

What’s A Healthy Weight?

Each child has a unique body type. Some kids will be naturally big-boned and others will be slim. Your child’s body shape, size and weight are partly determined at birth by their genetic makeup. In other words, their body reflects you, your partner, and other relatives. This can be changed by lifestyle choices and what they eat.

Here are eight ways to help your preschooler maintain
a healthy weight for their natural shape and size:

Tip #1

SCHEDULE MEALS AND SNACKS

While you don’t have to be strict with the timing of meals and snacks, it’s best to be predictable about when and where you serve them. This helps your preschooler build an appetite for eating and keeps them from getting too hungry.

OFFER FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

Fruit and vegetables are key to healthy eating. They provide fiber, vitamins and minerals that are important for growth and health. Include a fruit or veggie at every meal and snack, if possible. Choose from canned, dried, frozen, or fresh; try them in a smoothie, soup, or casserole. Any type will get your preschooler closer to meeting their daily servings each day.
Tip #2
Tip #3
DON’T FORGET FILLING FOODS

Protein-rich food like beans, yogurt, and meat help your preschooler feel satisfied and full after eating, which helps cut down on asking for food between meals. Foods with fiber like whole-wheat bread, corn tortillas and whole grain crackers, have the same effect on keeping tummies full.

THINK ABOUT DRINKS

Ideally, serve low-fat milk (or soy milk) or 100% juice with meals and snacks, and serve water in between. This helps reduce extra, unneeded calories. Doctors suggest your preschooler drink no more than ½ to ¾ cup of 100% juice per day. Even though juice can be healthy, too much is not a good thing! Try not to offer sugary drinks like soda, lemonade or sweet tea, as these provide extra calories without nutrients. Save these treats for special occasions.

Tip #4
Tip #5

ENCOURAGE PLAYTIME

Between meals and snacks, encourage your preschooler to play outside, take a walk or scoot along on riding toys. There’s no need to force formal exercise. Work in daily active playtime.

NIGHTY-NIGHT

Preschoolers need more sleep than adults, and getting too little sleep has been tied to higher weights in children. A routine that includes an early bedtime helps your child get the sleep they need to grow and develop.

Tip #6
Tip #7

THE TV TRAP

Even if young children are watching something educational on TV, the computer, video device or phone, limit these sitting activities. For preschoolers and older kids, limit total “screen time” to no more than two hours per day.

EAT TOGETHER

Family meals help children make healthy food choices and bond with the family. Keep the meal positive, enjoyable, and free of distractions from phones or the TV. Try to eat together as often as possible each week.

Tip #8
Healthy food isn’t the only key to raising a healthy preschooler. A 2010 study in Pediatrics found that families who regularly ate meals together, got their preschooler to bed on time, and kept a limit on TV viewing had children who were 40% less likely to become overweight or obese than preschoolers who weren’t exposed to these healthy habits.

Healthy food, activity and family routines work together to nudge your child to eat well, move and grow.

Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: