As with every age, good nutrition is an inseparable part of a healthy lifestyle. At this age, your child should eat with the rest of the family. An emphasis should be given to food with a high nutritional value: fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat (especially chicken, fish or turkey) and whole wheat bread. Completely remove candies and sweet drinks from your child’s diet. You can give your child a piece of cake or ice cream for dessert but remember to only do this occasionally - don’t make it a habit. Children at this age can be picky about their food and in many cases, they will clearly say what they feel about the food. Don’t get mad at your child and continue offering them a wide variety of healthy options on their plate.
When children are 4-years-old they can start learning proper table manners. They should be able to hold a fork and with proper parental guidance be taught how to hold a knife. Teach your child other table manners as well, like not eating with an open mouth, using a napkin instead of a sleeve and not leaning over other people's plates. Don’t only teach your children by telling them but by showing them. Your child will copy what they see around the table, so make sure to provide a positive example. If there is at least one family meal a day, there are higher chances of your child having good table manners.
Television ads have a bad influence regarding healthy eating habits. Studies show that children who watch more than 22 hours of television a week have a higher chance of developing obesity. 4-5-year-old kids are in a risk group for ads for sweets, especially if they are exposed to candies and sweet drinks at their friends' homes. For this reason, it is very important to follow your children’s eating habits inside and outside the house. In order to fight external influences, keep a healthy environment in your house, and limit the time they spend in front of the television.
Last updated: May 2017
Authors - Judah Freedman BA MED, Dr. Yair Sadaka MD PhD, pediatrician, Pediatric neurologist