Young kids are like little sponges – they are constantly soaking up information from the world around them. What they observe and learn in those early years helps guide them for the rest of their life. It’s one of our most important roles as parents – fostering their learning during those crucial first years. It might seem impossible at times (especially if you’ve got picky eaters!), but helping your children develop healthy habits early in life will help them for years and years to come.
Now, with any of my tips posts, I always feel compelled to start with a little disclaimer. I’m definitely not an expert in family health and wellness by any means. But I am someone how tries to lead a healthy, active, and balanced lifestyle and I try my best to teach my kids to do the same. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t for our family, so if you’re looking to make some changes to your family’s wellness, whether it’s because you’re having a hard time getting your kids to be active these days or your picky eaters refuse to eat anything even remotely healthy that you put in front of them, I’ve rounded up my top 5 tips for helping young children develop healthy habits and sharing one of my favourite toddler-approved breakfast recipes (quinoa fritatta muffins) at the end of this post.
Before I get into my 5 tips, I want to talk a bit about the cost of healthy living. I’m a firm believer that a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It is absolutely possible to make smart choices when it comes to your family’s health and wellness at every budget level. This is why I love shopping at Marshalls. They’ve really got everything I need in one place – from activewear for the entire family to healthy ingredients – and all at amazing prices. All of the workout clothes that Isabelle and I are wearing in this post were purchased from Marshalls and I love that I can get my favourite brands for so much less than I’d pay elsewhere. Saving money is always a win in my books!
Here are my top 5 tips for helping young children develop healthy habits:
[ 1 ] Be a good role model
This is absolutely number one on the list. You can’t expect your children to be active all the time when you aren’t active yourself. You are, after all, their greatest role model. So run around with your kids rather than watching them play from the couch. Go for walks as a family, take them for bike rides, practice yoga at home – whatever it is that will get you moving, do it and do it often. Same goes for healthy eating. Kids are not going to feel inclined to eat a ton of vegetables if mom and dad are constantly snacking on chips or sugary treats. Practice what you preach – whatever rules you have for your kids (e.g. only one sugary treat a day), have that apply to you as well. Show them that healthy living is important to your entire family (and doesn’t just apply to them).
[ 2 ] Get everyone moving together
Plan some time for the whole family to do exercise together. Whether that means taking a walk, going swimming, playing a game of soccer at the park, or even just tag in the backyard, make quality family time double as exercise. It’s a win-win for everyone!
[ 3 ] Make mealtime a family affair
From shopping to cooking to eating, make food a family affair. I find my kids are so much more likely to eat food that they’ve shopped for and helped make themselves. Plus you’re teaching them healthy eating habits along the way. This applies for the eating portion of the meal as well. I know life can be so rushed and kids take forever to eat sometimes, but sitting down as a family and putting that importance on eating as a family is such a good way to convey that you are invested in your family’s health and wellness.
[ 4 ] Keep it positive
Kids don’t want to hear what they can’t do and food is no different. Instead, focus on telling your kids what they can eat and praise them when they eat healthy food. Celebrate successes when it comes to their eating habits and you might just notice those successes becoming more and more frequent (young kids just want to please mom and dad, afterall).
[ 5 ] Be realistic
You aren’t going to see changes in your children’s eating or exercise habits overnight. Slow and steady wins the race here. Take baby steps and focus on small improvements. Even just a single bite of something healthy or riding their scooter a couple of blocks rather than sitting in the stroller is a step in the right direction and worth celebrating.
Quinoa Fritatta Muffins
We cook with a lot of eggs at our house (such a great source of protein!), especially for breakfast. Frittatas, omelettes, and bottomless quiche are all so easy to make and I love that you can make so many different variations just by switching up the vegetables + meat in the recipe (aka throw in whatever you have at home). They’re also really great to make in muffin-form, which my kids adore and make for a great snack on-the-go.
This particular recipe is a frittata variation that adds yummy quinoa for added protein and fibre. Fun fact: did you know that quinoa is not actually a grain? It’s a pseudo-cereal seed which also means it’s gluten free! (This recipe is a variation to Iowa Girl Eat’s recipe for mini ham and cheese quinoa cups.)
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (approx. 3/4 cup uncooked)
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup diced ham
- 1 cup shredded zucchini
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- salt + pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
- Fill a muffin tin with silicone muffin cups (we use these ones from IKEA) and spoon your mixture into the cups.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Marshalls Canada. All thoughts and opinions are my own.