Nutrition and fitness are the cornerstones of children’s health. You can help your child develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits. As a parent, you can encourage your kids to evaluate their food choice and physical activity habits.

To give your child a head start on lifelong fitness, consider children’s sports and other kid-friendly physical activities. Chances are a few sports will spark your child’s interest. Consider other classic tips from children’s health experts, such as encouraging activity — not exercise — and setting a good example yourself.

You can also promote children’s health by encouraging your child to eat a variety of healthy foods and control portion sizes. Learn which nutrients are necessary, in what amounts and how the guidelines change as a child grows older.

Here are some tips and guidelines to get you started.

Be a good role model – You don’t have to be perfect all the time, but if kids see you trying to eat right and getting physically active, they’ll take notice of your efforts. You’ll send a message that good health is important to your family.

Limit TV, video game and computer time – These habits lead to a sedentary lifestyle and excessive snacking, which increase risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease. Limit screen time to 2 hours per day.

Encourage physical activities that they’ll really enjoy – Every child is unique. Let your child experiment with different activities until they find something that they really love doing. They’ll stick with it longer if they love it.

Make dinnertime a family time – When everyone sits down together to eat, there’s less chance of children eating the wrong foods or snacking too much. Get your kids involved in cooking and planning meals. Everyone develops good eating habits together and the quality time with the family will be an added bonus.

Stay involved – Be an advocate for healthier children. Insist on good food choices at school.

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