What does any child do with food at this age?
Ages 5-7 – Explores and ‘tries out’ different foods
Unlike the toddler, the young school aged child wants to fit into the world around them. At the same time they feel more independent and peer pressure begins to shape their behaviour. Children start to explore their environment more, at home and at school. This includes food choices.
It’s good for parents to continue to offer healthy foods and encourage acceptable eating behaviour but balance this with giving freedom of choice.
Peer pressure will have an impact, especially with foods. Foods that are heavily advertised will be favourites and more often than not will be high in fat, salt or sugar. These types of foods are suitable from time to time as special occasion treats. Try to find healthy foods in packets, eg fruit in a bag is popular
Low fat alternatives such as reduced fat milk and low fat cooking methods are appropriate at this age. The food choices of your child should be the same as the rest of the family – generally low in fat (especially saturated fats) and high in fibre. This keeps the whole family healthy and reduces the risk of long term health problems.
Eating Meals Away From Home
As your child reaches school age they begin to eat more meals away from the family home. This includes school lunches. This is when you may encounter things like swapped lunches (the grass is greener… in a friend’s lunch box) and missed meals (not enough time to eat and play!).
- Prepare a lunch that looks good and is quick to eat.
- Pack up snacks and lunches in different wraps or containers which makes it easy for your child to determine which food package is for which meal.
- Freeze sandwiches and other freezable items the night before so that lunch tastes and looks fresh.
- Children at this age like to learn new skills and can make simple items like sandwiches. Lunch may be more likely to be eaten if it has been made by the child themselves.