Worldwide, it is estimated that there are over 42 million children under age 5 who are overweight, according to statistics from the World Health Organization. That’s why it’s crucial to introduce healthy eating habits to young children. Although children need nutritious foods to grow, getting them to actually eat such foods can sometimes seem impossible. If you start slow and proceed smartly, you can succeed.
Try carrots, which are packed with vitamin A. And, our little orange friends are full of beta-carotene—a vitamin A rich carotenoid, which helps the body defend itself from free radicals that can potentially damage cells. Beta-carotene might reduce the risk of prostate cancer, according to the American Dietetic Association.
How can you add these healthy bites into your child’s diet?
- Have patience. Don’t force your child to eat carrots. Tell her why they’re a healthy choice. If she doesn’t try it the first time, continue to reintroduce them in different ways, such as steaming them with a little butter and dill, or shredding them into soup or stews.
- Be creative. Use finely shredded carrots as decoration for salads, meats or fish when serving children older than 5.
- Maintain your own healthy eating habits. Children learn best from the examples around them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to remember food is nourishment and should not be used as a reward or punishment. Also, be aware that certain foods can be dangerous for children, especially those under 5. (See kids and food choking hazards.) Rounded, small, or slippery foods like baby carrots, grapes and raisins can slip right down the throat and lodge at a narrowed spot. (See Choking first aid for children aged 1 year and older.) Foods that are tough to chew, like carrots, might tempt children to swallow pieces whole—an obvious hazard. So, don’t serve carrot coins. Instead, cook carrots until soft.