Parents influence children’s eating through the type of foods they provide, how meals are structured, and by the family and social environment. Parents can also influence children’s eating in a positive or negative way by role modeling.
During the early years, children learn what, when, and how much to eat based on the family culture, attitudes, beliefs, and practices around food and eating.
What parents eat sets an example for what their children will eat.
When children eat well and get the nutrients they need, they have a better chance of having a healthy weight. Being well nourished also supports healthy growth and development and gives children the energy needed to carry out their daily activities. During the school years, eating well can help children perform better at school.
Parents need to provide healthy food choices most of the time for meals and snacks so that children will become used to these as the “normal” food choices. When healthy foods are the usual choice, and when children see their parents eating these foods, a child has a better chance of eating well and will perceive these foods to be the normal or usual choice. When unhealthy foods are the norm, a child may not learn how develop healthy eating habits.
Eating together at the table gives parents the opportunity to be a good role model—display good eating habits, such as eating a variety of foods, choosing moderate portions, and eating nutrient rich foods such as cereal, fruits, vegetables and milk. Children who eat at home with their families tend to eat more fruits, vegetables, and fiber and consume higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. They also eat fewer fried foods and soft drinks, and their diets are lower in saturated fat and trans fats.
Please refer to the links to the right of the page for more information on how you can help your child become a healthy eater.