Healthy Eating for Children

Helping your child to eat well
Children should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet. They should eat foods from each of the 4 main food groups each day. The 4 main food groups are:
• Bread, cereals and potatoes
• Fruit and vegetables
• Milk and dairy foods
• Meat, fish and alternatives
Fruit and vegetables are particularly important for good health. Under 5’s should be encouraged to eat 5 child sized portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
Vitamin C is important in maintaining good health and has a role in helping the body to absorb iron if both nutrients are present in the same meal. Under 5’s should be encouraged to eat foods containing vitamin C.
It is recommended that children up to the age of 5 should receive vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D.
The iron intake of children under 5 is lower than currently recommended and there is evidence to suggest that low iron status is common in this age group. Under 5’s should therefore eat a diet that is high in iron-rich food such as meat, poultry and fish, as well as fruit and vegetables.

Drinks for 1 to 5 year olds
Children should be encouraged to drink water if they are thirsty. Water quenches thirst, does not spoil the appetite, and does not damage teeth.
Milk is a good drink for 1 to 5 year olds. Whole cow’s milk is suitable as a main drink for most children from 12 months onwards. Semi-skimmed milk can be introduced gradually after the age of 2 years, provided that the child is a good eater and has a varied diet. Skimmed milk is not suitable as the main drink for children under 5 years of age.
Diluted fruit juice is a useful source of vitamin C. children should be encouraged to have a glass of diluted fruit juice with breakfast as this may also help the body to absorb iron.
Children who bring their own drinks to school or child car should be encouraged to bring a plastic flask or a lidded plastic cup containing an appropriately diluted drink. Many ready to drink cartons of squashes have...