Factoid: Children who are put on a chair doing nothing will wiggle around, while children who are put in front of a TV actually burn fewer calories than kids who are just "doing nothing".
Question: My 20-month-old is overweight -- above the 95th percentile for weight to height. What lifestyle or nutrition changes can I make to get him on track, to ensure my child's weight doesn't become a problem in the future?
Dr. Sheffield answers: Make sure your toddler is getting adequate sleep, is not drinking any sweetened drinks, is not watching TV and is getting a chance to run around daily with you or with peers. Don't use food as a reward or punishment. Offer child-sized portions of food made by you, not by a fast-food outlet. A fast food kid's meal contains the right amount of calories for an adult. Your child should be eating less than that with occasional healthy snacks in between. You can find tips and resources at Intermountain Healthcare, including a 24-page booklet called "8 to Live By".
Daycare question: My child brings a healthy lunch/snacks. Other parents may send less than healthy food, like potato chips, sugary fruit punch and cookies in their child's lunch boxes. My child often ends up eating his classmates' unhealthy foods. How can I get the teacher and other parents enthused and participating in healthy foods for our kids?
Dr. Sheffield answers: You can't always control other's behaviors, but you can control your own environment. Your child should still end up getting the majority of their calories at home. Make sure what you feed them there is as healthy as possible to counteract what they might be exposed to when they are out of your control. Ask the teacher if you can bring healthy snacks (such as veggies or fruit) for your child to share.
Question: My parents think my chubby daughter is cute. Even after I’ve asked that treats and snacks for her are healthy (I have given examples) they continue giving ice cream, candy, cookies and chips & dip. I am at the point of just not visiting. Before things escalate to that point, is there anything I can say that might sink in how overweight isn't "cute."
Dr. Sheffield answers: You may be able to ask for a note from her pediatrician asking others to help you keep your child at a healthier weight or have them write a behavioral prescription for your child. Parents have a hard time listening to their children as experts, because they raised you and you turned out just fine. Enlisting the help of another "expert" may be needed. Share tip #7 -- being positive about food. You can agree to not completely limit all foods they see as treats if they agree not to use food as a reward, punishment or to buy a child's love. You will know best which approach will work best with your parents.