What is Healthy Kids, Healthy Future?
Healthy Kids, Healthy Future continues the work by Let’s Move! Child Care, which was part of Let’s Move! — Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s national effort to prevent childhood obesity.
Healthy Kids, Healthy Future is a nationwide call-to-action that encourages and supports child care and early education providers to make positive changes in order to work toward a healthier future for children.
Our program is voluntary and for all types of child care: family care homes, centers, Early Head Start and Head Start, preschool, tribal, military and faith-based. We offer childhood obesity prevention resources and tools to assist child care and preschool providers.
Take the Quiz
The Healthy Kids, Healthy Future quiz (also available in Spanish) is a self-assessment tool to measure how your program is doing in these five goals. The number of questions depends on the age range you serve. There will be up to 15 questions. You might find it helpful to complete the quiz during nap time or after children have left for the day. You may need to ask your director or other providers in your program for their input as well.
Following are the best practices for each of the five healthy goals.
Learn more about the research behind these best practices.
Nurture Healthy Eaters
A fruit or vegetable should be served to toddlers and preschoolers at every meal.
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a child’s diet, but most children are not eating the recommended amount each day. Those who eat more fruits and vegetables have lower risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, certain cancers, and stroke.
Chips, French fries, fried potatoes, chicken nuggets, fish sticks and fried meats should be offered once a month or less.
Fried and pre-fried potatoes and meats (such as French fries, fried potato bites, hash browns, chicken nuggets, and fish sticks) contribute a lot of saturated fat and calories to the diet. Reduction of these food items can significantly reduce calories consumed.
All meals to preschoolers should be served family-style.
Family-style dining is a wonderful opportunity to enrich a child’s learning environment. Pouring, serving and passing food helps children practice independence and it can promote language and motor skills. Learning to use serving utensils allows children to develop fine motor skills.
Provide Healthy Beverages
Drinking water should be available inside and outside for self-serve.
Water makes up over half of a child’s body weight and it is essential for their health. Most importantly water helps keep a child growing appropriately and all parts of the body working properly. To encourage children to drink water, it is important to have water visible and available both inside and outside.
Children two years and older should be served skim or non-fat milk.
Milk is a great source of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein and other nutrients essential for growth of bones and teeth. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends low-fat or non-fat milk for children ages 2 or older.
100% fruit juice should be limited to no more than 4-6 oz per day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children six months and older consume no more than 4-6 ounces of 100% fruit juice per day. This amount includes juice that children are receiving at both home and at child care.
Sugary drinks (sports drinks, sweet tea, soda) should never be offered.
Sweetened drinks, including fruit drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea, and soda, are packed with calories and sugar, but offer little to nothing in terms of nutrients.
Get Kids Moving
Preschoolers need two or more hours of active play time every day. Toddlers should have at least an hour of active play time each day.
Physical activity helps children stay at a healthy weight and reduces their risk of developing obesity-related illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It also has been shown to help relieve feelings of stress and depression and reduce behavioral problems.
Babies should have short periods of “tummy time” every day.
Tummy time for infants has many benefits, such as promoting motor skill and cognitive development. Tummy time helps infants build strength, particularly in their neck and shoulder muscles. This, in turn, helps infants reach early movement milestones like rolling over, sitting up, and crawling.
Reduce Screen Time
Limit screen time to 30 minutes a week or less for preschoolers during child care. Screen time for toddlers and babies should be limited to four times or less a year, preferably none, in child care. Child care providers should provide media literacy education to parents of preschoolers at least twice a year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages the use of screen time for children under two years and recommends a limit of 1-2 hours a day for children two years and older. Screen time is not just watching TV; it also includes time spent playing on a computer, cell phone, tablet, or video game.
Breastfeeding mothers should be provided a private area for breastfeeding or pumping.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life, introduced to complementary foods around 6 months of age, and continue breastfeeding until at least 12 months of age. Breastfeeding provides positive benefits to both baby and mother.
Ready to help children start healthy habits?
Take the Healthy Kids, Healthy Future quiz, assess your program and develop an action plan to complete these best practices.