Getting the best start in life: All about childhood nutrition

If you’re a parent, you’ll know just how active and busy children are. In their first few years, kids grow and develop more than at any other life stage, so good nutrition is key to meet their unique needs.

Each day, kids should eat enough nutritious foods to grow and be healthy. They should also play and get plenty of exercise each day, and their growth should be checked regularly.

Give your kids the best start, by choosing mainly from these five food groups every day:

    • Vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
    • Fruit
    • Grain foods, like breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa
    • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
    • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives

Tips for fussy eaters

  • No one food is essential. Try to offer children a variety of choices from each food group. It is possible to receive similar nutrients from a number of foods within each food group.
  • As soon as they’re old enough, serve kids the same meal as the rest of the family – no special meals!
  • Offer food, and if it’s not eaten – take it away. It’s best not to make a fuss at meal times. If he or she is hungry later, re-offer food from earlier rather than something extra.
  • Encourage children to at least try each food on their plate. If they don’t like it, don’t give up – it can take up to ten tries before a child accepts a new food. It may help to serve new foods with at least one food you know they like.
  • Get the kids involved in shopping, growing, and preparing food. Often this builds their interest and enjoyment in food.

After more info?

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating; Advice about the amount and kinds of foods that we need to eat for health and wellbeing.

An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can provide helpful tips to improve the variety in your child’s diet, and make sure they are getting all of the things they need from food.