Healthy eating contributes to child development

By Maddy Rohr, K-State Research and Extension news service

MANHATTAN, Kan – Healthy eating is important in developing young children’s habits around food, said Tristen Cope, a family and youth development agent in K-State Research and Extension’s Chisholm Trail District.

“It is important to help children try new foods by being patient with them and offering a new food several times,” Cope said. “Caregivers can help children feel more comfortable by modeling healthy eating.”

Cope and Monique Koerner – a family and community wellness agent in the Cottonwood District, will host a webinar titled, Nutrition and Skills to Get You Started on Family Meals, on March 22. Their session is being offered as part of the bi-weekly series, Living Well Wednesday, hosted by K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences professionals across Kansas.

Cope recommends selecting the right portion size for each family member and using time during family meals to build relationships.

“Providing meaningful time for conversations can help support a child’s overall development,” she said.

There are short-term barriers like family schedules, jobs or older sibling scheduling conflicts that may interfere with family meals, but Cope said long-term benefits outweigh the barriers.

“In addition to enjoying a family meal, preparing for the meal is a great opportunity for young children to be involved. Helping in the kitchen can encourage young children to grow their sense of responsibility, take ownership in a task, and will help them be even more willing to try new foods,” Cope said.

The March 22 webinar is free, but registration is required. More information can be found online, or at local K-State Research and Extension offices in Kansas.