Beth E. Kailes, DMD • Nicole M. Staman, DMD • Allison J. Johnston, DMD

Beth E. Kailes, DMD
Nicole M. Staman, DMD
Allison J. Johnston, DMD

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(904) 215-7800

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Contact Us

(904) 215-7800

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Five Nutrition Tips for Healthy Kids and Healthy Smiles

Maintaining a well-balanced and healthy diet is essential for your child’s growth and development. Good nutrition helps them do well in school and feel good about themselves. But, kids will be kids, and eating healthy might just be the last thing on their minds.

We’ve compiled a few nutrition tips to help keep you on track.

Serve Fruits and Vegetables

Serve Fruits and Vegetables

Raw fruits and vegetables can help keep our teeth clean. They are crunchy act like a gentle brush to remove food and bacteria left on our teeth after eating. Chewing also increases saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria. And the nutrients and antioxidants are good for their entire body.

Offer Dairy Every Day

Dairy products, like milk, cheese, and yogurt contain calcium. Calcium is the main mineral that makes up our teeth and supporting jawbones and helps our heaerts, muscles and nerves function properly. Dark leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified foods like orange juice are a good alternative if your child doesn’t like dairy or has a dairy allergy.

Choose Healthy Snacks

Choose Healthy Snacks

Sticky and gummy snacks can increase your child’s risk of tooth decay. They are damaging to teeth because of how sticky they are. Small particles get stuck in the grooves and crevices of your teeth, making it harder for saliva to wash them away. Plus these low nutrient snacks make your child full, so when it’s dinnertime, they won’t want to eat the healthy and nutritious dinner you’ve prepared. Choose healthy snacks, such as fruits, vegetables and cheese.

Limit Soda and Juice

Limit Juice, Soda and Sports Drinks

Drinking large amounts of soda and juice has been linked to childhood obesity. They are loaded with sugars and acids, and these ingredients damage the teeth and can cause tooth decay.

Sports drinks contain extra calories and high levels of sugar, almost as much as two-thirds the sugar of soda drinks. The extra calories can lead to potential weight problems and the extra sugar can lead to dental problems. Read more about How Sports Drinks are Harmful for Kids’ Teeth.

Choose Sugarless Gum and Candy With Xylitol

It’s OK to have a treat now and then. Most sugar-free candies and gum contain xylitol, a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants, that doesn’t break down like sugar and helps maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth. It protects teeth from decay by preventing bacteria from sticking to the teeth. Because bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities are unable to digest xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced. Read more about The Benefits of Xylitol for Cavity Prevention.

Get Kids Involved in Cooking

How do you teach kids to stick with healthy nutrition habits as they get older?

Getting kids involved in the kitchen may make them more likely to choose healthy foods. Cooking is a fantastic family activity, and there are many ways to get kids involved, no matter how old they are! In the kitchen, children can learn math skills, practice fine motor coordination, make choices about nutrition, and learn basic cooking techniques.

Getting kids involved in choosing healthy foods for their lunches and after-school snacks can also help instill healthy habits.

What about picky eaters?

If you have a picky eater and you’re not sure how to begin. Try a few of these healthy snack ideas:

Healthy Treats: Sneak some fruits and veggies into your kid’s favorite baked goods. Banana bread, zucchini muffins, and carrot bars are a few ways to disguise foods your child may not want to eat.

Veggies/Fruit and Dip: Kids love anything that’s hands-on, so dipping is always a good idea. Carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes with low-fat ranch dressing or hummus. Apples, bananas, pears, and strawberries go really well with low-fat yogurt.

Cheese: The protein in cheese will keep energy levels high until dinnertime. Use a cookie cutter to cut it into fun shapes and making kabobs with your child’s favorite fruit.

Peanut Butter: Peanut butter is packed with fiber and protein. Try spreading it on whole-wheat crackers or celery stalks, and top it off with some sweet and chewy raisins. Be sure to avoid peanut butter if your child has a nut allergy.

Smoothies: Filled with nutrients, smoothies are a great way to sneak two or three servings of fruit and fiber into your child’s diet. Use nonfat vanilla yogurt, 100 percent orange juice, and a banana as the smoothie’s base, then experiment with a combination of cut-up fresh or frozen fruit.

By expanding your menu and providing a variety of tasty, healthy foods, you will ensure better nutrition for your child and building a strong foundation for lifelong healthy eating habits.

At Growing Healthy Smiles, our team is always ready to answer questions, address concerns and make sure that your child has a happy and healthy smile. Schedule an appointment today or call us at (904) 215-7800!