Nutritional Guidelines
for Kids ages 3 to 7

Food and TV:

Kids younger than ten, watch commercials more closely and less discerningly than their older, more cynical, siblings, and nearly half the commercials they see advertise food. And most of the commercials emphasize flavor -- "sweetness," "richness," "chocolatiness" -- of the foods they are touting and rarely focus on the relationship between the food and health. Of course, taste is an important consideration, but it is only one part of the decision to eat something.

Taking the time to analyze a commercial or two with your child can help him or her become a savvy viewer -- limiting the amount of TV they watch isn't a bad idea either. After all, TV watching is a sedentary activity that has been linked to obesity in children!

Feeding your 3 to 7 year old:

Kids' appetites will start to pick up now as they enter a period of steady growth. They will still have definite likes and dislikes, and maybe even some idiosyncratic eating behavior, like not allowing their foods to touch each other on the plate. Your casual acceptance of their benign quirky behavior will ensure its transience, and your respect for their likes and dislikes will make them more willing to at least try new things when you ask.

Because they are bigger, they can hold more and eat less often. That's three squares and a couple of snacks a day. (An after school snack is almost as essential as a regular meal). You may see a gradual acceptance of new foods but many kids continue to reject unfamiliar foods and pass on the vegetables. They seem to like simple, unmixed dishes more than casseroles, food at room temperature rather than hot or cold. Most also reject strong flavors and are discouraged from eating when portions are too big.

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