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Healthy Eating: Helping Your Child Learn Healthy Eating Habits

Table of Contents


Childhood is the best time to learn the healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Healthy eating can help your child feel good, stay at or reach a healthy weight, and have lots of energy for school and play. In fact, healthy eating can help your whole family live better.

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How do you help your child learn healthy eating habits?

Share the responsibility. You decide when, where, and what the family eats. Your child chooses whether and how much to eat from the options you provide.

Young children are good at listening to their bodies. They eat when they're hungry. They stop when they're full. When we try to control how much children eat, we interfere with this natural ability. Keeping this division of responsibility helps your child stay in touch with those internal cues.

Help your children learn to eat slowly and recognize when they are full. Don't let rules, pleading, or bargaining dictate your child's eating patterns.

You can use some or all of the ideas below to get started. You may find other ideas that work for your family, and you can add those to these lists.

First steps

Portion sizes

After a few days or weeks

Use knowledge to reinforce healthy eating habits

Help your children understand healthy eating by teaching them about food—where it comes from, how it grows, what nutrients it contains, and how many calories (how much energy) it has.

Credits for Healthy Eating: Helping Your Child Learn Healthy Eating Habits

Current as of: September 20, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff (
Clinical Review Board (
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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