What Is Healthy Nutrition For Young Kids?


Kids need healthy fats to fuel their bodies and minds. But many snacks marketed to kids are high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats (like trans and saturated fat).

Choose grains that are low in sugar and high in fiber, such as bread, pasta, couscous and rice. And look for foods that are low in sodium, such as sliced fruit and yogurt.

1. Offer a variety of foods.

Kids need a variety of foods from the different food groups to get enough nutrients. They also need a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Make fruits and vegetables a staple at meals and snacks. For example, serve sliced fruit with low-fat yoghurt or carrot and celery sticks with dip like hommus or tzatziki.

Limit fast food, which can be high in sugar, unhealthy fats and salt. Save treats like cake and chocolate for special occasions.

It may be harder to offer a variety of foods if your child has allergies or intolerances. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about how to manage these foods while keeping your child healthy. Vegetables, for example, are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as iron, potassium, folate, vitamin K, and fibre.

2. Limit juice.

Juice was once a staple of kids’ diets, but it’s now seen as a contributor to weight gain, tooth decay and some gastrointestinal issues. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children avoid juice entirely before their first birthday and limit their consumption afterward.

Instead, health professionals recommend meeting kids’ fluid needs with water and low-fat milk. When they do drink juice, it should be 100 percent fruit juice, not “fruit juice cocktails” or other packaged beverages that add sugar. And it should only be offered as part of a meal or snack. Otherwise, sipping it for long periods can contribute to tooth decay and dampen appetites for healthy nutrition. It’s also a source of empty calories. It may even lead to obesity, a risk factor for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

3. Offer low-sodium foods.

Offer low-sodium foods.

Sodium (salt) is needed for water balance in the body and nerve function but too much salt can lead to high blood pressure that starts in childhood. Limit processed foods, packaged items like frozen dinners and lunch meats, and choose reduced-sodium versions of these foods where available.

Encourage your children to eat whole fruits and vegetables for snacks and meals. Fresh food is rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre that help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and some cancers.

Try adding a variety of fresh herbs and spices to foods for flavour without added salt. Serve a variety of whole grains including quinoa, brown rice and pasta; low-fat or fat-free dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) and healthy fats (canola, olive and/or peanut oils and avocados). Use the % Daily Value on food labels to compare sodium levels.

4. Offer low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

Getting kids to choose healthy foods is an ongoing challenge. But starting them off on a good diet now can help them maintain a healthy weight, stabilize their moods and sharpen their minds.

Encourage kids to eat healthy protein-rich foods like lean meats, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils and unsalted nuts and seeds. And be sure to include vegetables and fruits.

When it comes to dairy, aim for low-fat or fat-free products. And be sure to offer children calcium-rich foods like dark leafy greens, yogurt, cheese and calcium-fortified soy beverages. Milk is important for growing kids, but too much can add unnecessary calories and saturated fat to their diet. So consider offering low-fat or non-fat milk, and use it to make hot and cold cereals and to hydrate fruit.

5. Offer vegetables.

Children need to eat veggies (and fruits) for their healthy growth and development. They may need repeated exposure to vegetables and different preparation styles. Try adding veggies to foods they like, such as salads, pizza or muffins. Vegetables also can be served with a low-calorie dip or sprinkled with cheese for added flavour and texture.


Kids also need to eat protein, which provides the amino acids they need for growth and energy. Lean meats and fish, eggs, beans and soy products, nuts and seeds are high-quality proteins. Limit juice and choose water or milk for beverages. It’s important to offer whole grain foods, such as bread, pasta and couscous, because they provide fibre, which helps maintain proper fluid balance in the body. They also help kids feel full and satisfied.