Healthy Children - April 2013

INCCRRA in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services is providing information on childhood obesity through its website. The intent is to communicate to child care practitioners, parents and others who visit the website, the seriousness of obesity in young children and to link them to current research on the issue.

Helpful suggestions for meal planning, recipes and healthy physical activities are presented on this site not just for overweight children but the health of the entire family.

New ideas are listed every month. Each month a new column on this issue of national concern is posted. It answers questions you have regarding heavy children and healthy lifestyles - be sure to check it out.

For more information contact the Illinois Department of Human Services at (217) 785-9336 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also contact your local Illinois Child Care Resource and Referral Agency.

The consumer health information on childhood obesity provided by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies on the site or by any links to other sites is for information purposes only and should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product or course of action. This web site generally links to other sites that are informational in nature and does not link to commercial sites that are primarily intended for the sale of products or services. Use of this site or any links to other sites does not replace medical consultations with a qualified health or medical professional to meet the health and medical needs of you or a loved one. You should promptly seek professional care if you have any concern about the health of you or a loved one and you should always consult your physician before you or a loved one starts a fitness regimen.



Healthy Celebrations

Why Celebrate Healthy

Kids love a celebration, what food is served really doesn’t matter. By centering a party on eating “junk” food, kids associate unhealthy foods with fun occasions. Why not build that association around healthy foods instead?

Things to remember

Parties and celebrations don’t have to be centered on food. Plan them around activates instead. Try...

  • Ice skating party
  • Bowling party
  • Pool party
  • Sledding party
  • Arts and crafts party


A Healthier Menu

You don’t have to scrap the cake, just keep pieces child size and include healther foods instead. Try...

  • A Fruit salad
  • Bite size sandwiches
  • Cheese cubes
  • Pita bagel chips
  • Skim milk or flavored fizzy water
  • Carrots and dip


Published by the NAP SACC Program, Center for Health Promotions and Disease Prevention, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 2006. Permission to reprint in its entirety. For non-commercial use only.



Help Your Child Reach a Healthy Weight

By Lindsay-Hazel

Child obesity is a regular topic in the news-and with more than a third of American children either overweight or obese, there’s real reason for concern. Burt while many stories talk about school lunch programs and government initiatives, it can be hard to know what to do when you own child falls into that one-third category. Then, it’s not about statistics anymore-it’s personal.

Getting Started

The first step is to take an honest look at your kids. Denying a weight problem isn’t going to help. If you have concerns about your child’s weight, talk to their doctor. Kids develop differently, and it’s possible that yours are still shedding their baby fat. Their doctor can give you a better idea of wither there is a problem or not.

If one or more of your children are diagnosed as overweight or obese, the next step is to acknowledge it without blaming them or yourself. It’s not too late to change bad habits and develop better ones.

The key is that you’re determined to help them get healthy and active. You’re the biggest influence in their lives, and you can help them adopt healthy habits now that will last a lifetime.

Next, explain the reasons for change. Kids often don’t understand the link between what (and how much) they eat and what it does to their bodies. Don’t explain it in terms of weight or appearance; instead, talk about being healthy and strong.

Children and adolescents can be sensitive about their weight, especially if they’ve been bullied because of it. Make sure you always use positive reinforcement and build up self-esteem, and never make your child feel guilty for being overweight.

Create A Plan

Now it’s time to create an action plan. Set the limit on “screen time”-TV, video games, and computers. Sedentary lifestyle is one of the major factors in the rise of childhood obesity. Have your kids earn their screen time, like playing outside for an hour earns them 15 minutes of their favorite video game. Turn this activity time into family time. Take a bike ride together through your neighborhood. Teach your children games you played as a kid, like freeze tag and leap frog. Pretty soon, they might start enjoying physical play as much as (or even more than) sedentary play.

Diet is the other big factor in childhood obesity. Improving what children eat also needs to be a family effort. Kids’ eating habits are often learned from their parents, so first take a look at what you eat and what you feed them. Again, don’t blame or stress about the past; instead, set goals for moving forward.

Fruits and vegetables need to become fixtures of your meals. Also, cut back on fast food and snacks like potato chips-swap nutritious snacks like string cheese, nuts, grapes and rice cakes. Curb your family’s soda habit and encourage everyone to drink more water. Don’t’ allow soda at the dinner table; instead offer low-calorie drinks like low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or water.

These changes can seem overwhelming at first, but you don’t have to make them all at once. Start small, like setting a goal of serving veggies with dinner five nights a week. You probably won’t be able to reform your family’s diet and exercise routine in a few days. Change can be difficult for kids (and sometimes more so for adults). Make sure your children understand that this lifestyle change isn’t’ a punishment for bad behavior or for being overweight, but rather a family effort to get everyone healthier.

Joy Bauer, a registered dietitian and “Today” show nutrition expert offers tips to parents:

  1. Never single out one child struggling with a weight issue. Even thin siblings benefit from healthy eating and regular exercise.
  2. Involve your kids in meal planning, shopping, and cooking. When kids help pick out and prepare veggies for the stir-fry or seasoned turkey meat for tacos, they’ll be more likely to branch out from mainstays like chicken nuggets.
  3. A good rule is 90 percent healthy food, 10 percent fun food. Certainly we should limit the not-so-healthy stuff-but not eliminate it. Diets that are too restrictive backfire.
  4. If you’re having a tough time getting your kids on board, don’t hesitate to seek the help of an outside professional. As parents, we all know that some kids are much more likely to follow guidelines and show interest when the information is coming from someone else. To find a qualified pediatric/adolescent registered dietician in your area, visit the American Dietetic Association’s website at


Health Alliance Winter/Fall 2012



Quiet Times

It’s a lot easier for children to get wound up and going than to slow down and stop. Give them time to stop slowly. Their minds need some transition time so that they can begin slowing their bodies down. Remind them two or three times before you want them to stop.

  • For example: We have about 10 minutes and then we need to get going.
  • Followed by: We have about five more minutes. Where do you want to spend it?
  • Then: Okay, time for one last slide, then we’re out of here.


To help your child settle down after active play, try to develop a regular cook down routine. Here are some ideas:

  • Offer your child a refreshing glass of water.
  • Offer your child a favorite comfort.
  • Offer to read your child a story - try the new titles listed in Ready, Set, Dance article, or an old favorite!
  • Teach your child a special signal that lets them know it’s time to cool down - this could be clapping your hands, holding up two fingers in the air, or singing a familiar song like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Use this signal every time it’s time to settle down.


Avoid using TV, videos, or computers as your main quiet time activity.



10 tips Nutrition Education Series

be a healthy role model for children: 10 tips for setting good examples

You are the most important influence on your child. You can do many things to help your children develop healthy eating habits for life. Offering a variety of foods helps children get the nutrients they need from every food group. They will also be more likely to try new foods and to like more foods. When children develop a taste for many types of foods, it’s easier to plan family meals. Cook together, eat together, talk together, and make mealtime a family time!

    1. Show by example - Eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with meals or as snacks. Let your child see that you like to munch on raw vegetables.
    2. Go food shopping together - Grocery shopping can teach your child about food and nutrition. Discuss where vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein foods come from. Let your children make healthy choices.
    3. Get creative in the kitchen - Cut food into fun and easy shapes with cookie cutters. Name a food your child helps make. Serve “Janie’s Salad” or “Jackie’s Sweet Potatoes” for dinner. Encourage your child to invent new snacks. Make your own trail mixes from dry whole-grain, low-sugar cereal and dried fruit.
    4. Offer the same foods for everyone - Stop being a “short-order cook” by making different dishes to please children. It’s easier to plan family meals when everyone eats the same foods.
    5. Reward with attention, not food - Show your love with hugs and kisses. Comfort with hugs and talks. Choose not to offer sweets as rewards. It lets your child think sweets or dessert foods are better than other foods. When meals are not eaten, kids do not need “extras”-such as candy or cookies-as replacement foods.
    6. Focus on each other at the table - Talk about fun and happy things at mealtime. Turn off the television. Take phone calls later. Try to make eating meals a stress-free time.
    7. Listen to your child - If your child says he or she is hungry, offer a small, healthy snack-even if it is not a scheduled time to eat. Offer choices. Ask “Which would you like for dinner: broccoli or cauliflower?” instead of “Do you want broccoli for dinner?”
    8. Limit screen time - Allow no more than 2 hours a day of screen time like TV and computer games. Get up and move during commercials to get some physical activity.
    9. Encourage physical activity - Make physical activity fun for the whole family. Involve your children in the planning. Walk, run, and play with your child-instead of sitting on the sidelines. Set an example by being physically active and using safety gear, like bike helmets.
    10. Be a good food role model - Try new foods yourself. Describe its taste, texture, and smell. Offer one new food at a time. Serve something your child likes along with the new food. Offer new foods at the beginning of a meal, when your child is very hungry. Avoid lecturing or forcing your child to eat.

United States Department of Agriculture - Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

Go to for more information.

DG TipSheet No. 12 - June 2011

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Stretch Those Arms

Three months on
A rattle
Bed, couch, blanket on the floor, etc ...
Place the infant on his or her back. Shake a rattle in front of the infant about 8-12 inches away from their nose. Shake the rattle until the child extends his or her arms toward the rattle.
Learning Outcomes
Approaches to Learning - Child uses initiative, curiosity and persistence to learn about the world. He or she explores the environment through movement and the use of senses. He or she looks towards sounds.
Large Motor Skills - Child begins to gain voluntary control of arm movements, using arms purposefully to reach for objects.
Small Motor Skills - The child handles objects such as rattles with growing skill that are large are large enough not to be a choking hazard.
Did You Know?
Infants learn through exploration. They use their eyes, mouth, and hands to explore large and small objects that are within their reach. Over time, actions become more purposeful and eye -hand coordination increases. Caregivers can support infants’ exploration by providing toys and materials with a variety of textures, sounds, tastes, sizes and weights. Toys can be both manufactured items and household ones such as pots, pans spoons, etc...
Movement Milestone
At 6.5 months, infants can usually sit in a high chair and grasp a dangling object.

Head Start Body Start, Reprinted with permission.