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Instill healthy habits for life!

Get _em while they_re young! That_s the consensus among researchers, who say tots don_t have a lot of firm preferences and their behaviors aren_t set in stone. So the earlier you get them on the road to healthy habits, the better! Start with these tips_and don_t despair if your little ones aren_t so little anymore. You can still make a difference!

Provided by HealthMonitor

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Put good nutrition in the spotlight

Expand their palates. Encourage kids to try samples at the supermarket and remind them that tasting new foods is a sign of growing up. The more adventurous their palates, the wider the variety of foods kids eat and the greater their odds of getting all the nutrients they need.

Have at least three meals a week as a family. Kids who shared in three family meals a week were 24% more likely to eat healthy foods, 12% less likely to be overweight and 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics. Coordinating dinnertimes too tough? Sunday morning breakfast counts, too!

Put "em to work. Kids are more likely to eat their own creations, so involve them in food prep, even if it's asking them to grab the celery from the fridge. And if you're really ambitious, plant a garden or cultivate an indoor herb garden, and let them help with watering and weeding. They'll be excited to taste the basil they helped grow'along with the grilled chicken breast it's flavoring!

Get "em moving!

Let them roam...within reason. Free your small child from strollers and playpens whenever and wherever he or she can safely move around.

Put "em in charge. Keeping in mind how strong, coordinated and mature they are, make kids responsible for chores like taking out garbage, vacuuming, mowing lawns and raking leaves. And make it fun: Set a timer and see how fast they can make their bed. Challenge them to beat their time.

Let homework wait. Give kids a chance to move around right after school. Let them play tag in the backyard, take a bike ride or do a team sport. Burning off steam after school will help them focus when it's time to hunker down over assignments.

Get fitness gear out of hiding.Toss a jump rope, resistance bands and a yoga mat in a basket you keep in the den. And use "em yourself'kids love imitating their parents!

Create family memories. Get kids excited by planning outings like apple picking, a fall leaf-peeping hike and a scenic bike trip. They don't think of these activities as "exercise," but as great times they want to have lots more of!

Let persistence pay off. Your tot spits out broccoli after one or two tries? Don't make a big deal about it. Just take it away and offer it again next week. Studies show it takes 10-15 tries for a child to like a new food.

Abolish the "clean plate" rule. Kids are naturally programmed to stop eating when they get full'remember when you were nursing or bottle-feeding your baby? So respect their internal cues by serving modest portions and letting them put down their forks when they feel sated. If they're still hungry, they can always go back for seconds.

Sneak in produce. Boost the nutritional content of foods your child already enjoys. Mix grated zucchini and carrots into muffins, meatloaf, lasagna and soups. Add fruit to cereal and pancakes.

Prove why they need water. Take a dry sponge and show them how it grows when it gets wet. Then say, "Drinking water will help you grow, too!'

Keep them crunchy. Veggies, that is. When Dutch researchers tested carrots and green beans cooked six different ways on elementary school children, the kids preferred the veggies lightly steamed because they stayed nice and crunchy.

Send "em off to dreamland!

Calm them with consistency. Stick with a favorite bedtime story rather than switching it up every night. The familiarity is reassuring to small children and has a tranquilizing effect.

Power down. Turn off all screens (TVs, computers, tablets, cellphones) at least one hour before bedtime, suggests the American Academy of Pediatrics. Light from self-luminous electronic displays may suppress the slumber-inducing hormone melatonin, negatively affecting sleep, according to Harvard researchers.

Prepare "drowsy" snacks. If your child is hungry, offer a snack that includes protein and carbohydrates'whole-grain crackers and a small piece of cheese or a slice of whole-grain bread with a slice of turkey breast'about an hour before bedtime to help bring on sleep and keep her full through the night.

Make a return appearance. Young kids'around ages 3 to 6'love to call for Mom and Dad or get out of bed after they've been tucked in. Preempt it by telling them you'll be back to check on them in five minutes if they stay in bed. Each week, add a minute or two.

Give "em a shot of bravery. Little one afraid of monsters and other middle-of-the night goblins? Arm him with a flashlight, a water pistol and a big stuffed bear to help make him fearless.
Obesity Attention Deficit Disorder Melatonin Exercise More

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