Supporting Healthy Habits at Home

Aerial view of child-sized shoes beside backpack

What It's About

Healthy Habits are the routines and practices that help us build positive relationships with food. Eating healthy foods improves children’s energy, motivation, mood, and focus. Learning about healthy foods early on will make it more likely that children will reach for those foods in the future. 

The best way to support these skills is to offer a variety of foods for your child to try, eat with your child, and talk about the purpose of eating food and making healthy choices.


Here are some ways you can support Healthy Habits at home. Keep in mind that you can change these activities to work for you and your child, based on their current abilities, interests, and what you have available at home.

Take a look, and try out your favorites!

Make a Meal

Prepare a healthy snack or meal together. Have your child watch or participate as you talk about what you are putting into the food, the smells, and how it is made. For example, “I’m adding 1 scoop of raisins to the batter. Raisins are dried up grapes. They will make it taste so good.”

Read About Food

Choose books focused on healthy foods. Point out healthy eating choices that characters make in books you already love. For example, “They’re making a salad. Eating that will give their body energy. It has lots of yummy vegetables. I see lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.”

Farm to Table

Talk about how different foods grow or are made. Visit real-life farms and gardens, or read books to learn about the planting, growing, and harvesting processes. Whenever possible, talk about where the food you eat comes from such as a home garden, farm, the ocean etc.

Grocery Trip

Bring your child along with you to shop for groceries. Talk about the foods as you see them in the store. Point out different varieties of food. Choose healthy foods that your child can try when they get home.

Act it Out!

Use pretend food or other items to act out healthy eating during play. Pretend to cook, grow, or eat food with your child. For example, “I am going to pretend this rock is an apple. I’ll use this stick to slice it up for my snack.”

Mindful Munching

Talk about food as you are eating. Describe the smell, taste, or look of the food. For example, “The granola smells and tastes sweet. It is crunchy when I bite into it.”

Quick Cues for Supporting Healthy Habits

Some things you might do or say to help strengthen your child’s Healthy Habits

Label and Connect

Help your child see the connection between food and energy, health, and strength. 

This can sound like:

“You are drinking so much milk. You’re bones will be so healthy and strong.”

“We just went for a long walk. I need a glass of water to recharge my body. Do you want some water, too?” 

“I see you eating that broccoli. It’s making you big and strong. Let me see your muscles! Whoa!” 

Celebrate Trying New Foods

Show excitement when your child tries a new food even if they don’t end up liking it.

This can sound like:

“Yay, you tasted the carrots. Did you like it?” 

“You tried spinach! It’s okay you didn’t love it. I’m proud you tried it.” 

“This Indian food is spicy and yummy! It looks like you like it.” 

Allow Choice

If possible, give your child some say in what foods or how much they eat.

This can sound like:

“You ate all your pancakes! Do you want more?” 

“Do you want strawberries or carrots for a snack?” 

“How many scoops of pineapple do you want?” 

Our Book Recommendations for Healthy Habits

Engaging stories that support children's Healthy Habits
Rah Rah Radish Book Cover

Rah, Rah, Radishes!

Written and illustrated by April Pulley Sayre, this book introduces a wide variety of vegetables using a rhythmic chant and celebrates their different looks and flavors.

Have fun with it:
Prepare a new vegetable as part of your next meal and encourage your child to try it.

Tomatoes for Neela Book Cover

Tomatoes for Neela

Written by Padma Lakshmi and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, this story shows a child connecting with her family as she learns about cooking the food that nourishes them.

Have fun with it:
Try to include your child in following a simple recipe together at home.

More Take-Home Strategies

We’re creating a library of resources like these so families and other caregivers can quickly and easily promote children’s development at home. Be sure to see all the strategies we have available!