A Note on Children

Toddlers

Good nutrition during the toddler years (ages 2-5 years) is fundamental for your child’s growth and development. The Department of Health’s Food Pyramid, which categorises food into groups, (see Nutrition and Diet) provides guidelines on the number of servings to be eaten daily for adults and children over 5 years of age. However, children under 5 years start with fewer servings and smaller portions which should gradually increase up to the guidelines recommended in the Food Pyramid.

School-aged Children

During the school years, children are growing, developing and learning. In general, by this stage in life (≥ 5 years), children should be following similar guidelines based on the Food Pyramid (see Nutrition and Diet) with adjustments made depending on individual growth, development and activity levels.

The National Dairy Council runs an exciting initiative ‘Moo Crew, the Primary Dairy Moovement’, where pupils explore the importance of dairy as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle in a fun way. See www.moocrew.ie for further information. 

Lunchbox Tips

Children can get bored with school lunches quickly and quite easily! It is important to ensure they are eating a healthy, balanced diet which meets the nutritional requirements specific for their life-stage.  Aim to introduce a variety of foods, encourage a range of tastes and present in an appealing way. No doubt, school days can be hectic, so setting aside some extra time during the weekend to plan for the week ahead is definitely worth while! For great lunchbox ideas – which include many traditional suggestions with a number of modern twists… click here . 

Did you know that school children around the country can avail of the School Milk scheme, which provides a carton of milk at a very low price to those registered in participating schools? A carton of School Milk contributes to the recommended servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Contact the NDC to find out more.

Snacking

Snacking can be an ideal way for children to obtain the energy and nutrients they require - but ensure healthy snacks are chosen and watch portion sizes. 

Snack ideas include:

  • Small salad sandwich
  • Yogurt over chopped fruit
  • Bite-sized vegetables
  • Unsweetened cereal with milk
  • Homemade fruit smoothie
  • Cup of homemade soup

 

Keeping Active

The National Guidelines on Physical Activity recommend that all children (2-18 years) be active for at least 60 minutes every day, and should include muscle-strengthening, flexibility and bone strengthening exercises at least 2-3 times per week. . An active lifestyle is also very important for bone health and regular weight-bearing exercise (any exercise which puts the full weight of your body on your feet and legs) is particularly important. Examples of weight-bearing exercises include running, dancing, football, tennis and most team sports. Visit www.getirelandactive.ie for further information.