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Explore nutrition tips, kids’ meal plans, kids’ activities, recipes and more from pediatric nutritionist, Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE.

Prevent Obesity in Your 2 to 4 Year-Old Child

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Prevent Obesity in Your 2 to 4 Year-Old Child

During the preschool years, take advantage of the great influence you have on the eating and activity environment of your little one.

Toddlers quickly take on the eating habits around them-which explains why the most common eaten vegetable of 2 year olds is French fries! Another important change at this age is preschoolers are beginning to be more influenced by their environment. For example, if you serve your child serving sizes that are larger, he will eat more. For this reason, you should continue serving your child on a child-sized plate. This will be a good reminder of what an appropriate serving size is! Don’t worry that your child will be hungry-he can now ask for more!

What are the benefits of eating together as a family?

At this age, eating as a family is important for many reasons. Eating together promotes conversation and vocabulary building for preschoolers. It’s also a good time for you, the parent, to set a good example because the best way to get your child to eat healthy foods is for you to eat them too!

Why does outside playtime continue to be important?

Time spent outside means more time being active, while time spent inside by a child means more sedentary play like TV watching, which can directly affect being overweight in children. So, what are you waiting for? Go out and play! And leave the stroller at home! See Kids at Play – the Many Benefits.

Beginning in your child’s second year of life, he isn’t growing as quickly, so he doesn’t need as much fat. Now is the time to make the switch from whole milk to 2%, 1% or even skim milk. Don’t worry – the only difference in these kinds of milk is their fat content! And your preschooler is getting fat from other sources, hopefully mostly from heart-healthy vegetable fat like avocado (great on toast), olive or canola oil.

For more nutrition tips for your 2 to 4-year-old see Nutrition Tips for Your Preschool Child.


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About the Author

Picture of Bridget Swinney, MS, RD

Bridget Swinney, MS, RD

Bridget is an award-winning author and well-regarded nutrition expert in the field of prenatal nutrition, child nutrition and family eating matters. A frequent speaker and media guest, she is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition. Bridget has worked as a clinical dietitian, public health nutritionist, WIC Program Director, diabetes educator and weight loss group facilitator, and is the author of three books.

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