mother and daughter making a healthy saladRaising food smart kids can sometimes be a battle. Parents can help kids make healthy nutritional choices through some simple, effective steps.

Make healthy food easily accessible. Kids tend to grab the crackers and cookies from the pantry because it’s easy. Make fruits and vegetables just as simple to access. Keep apples in a visible fruit bowl rather than hidden in the refrigerator.

Don’t buy the junk. Especially when they’re little, the only foods your kids have access to are those that you bring into your home.

Acknowledge their healthy food selections. When your child reaches for a piece of cheese, yogurt or vegetables, give them a smile and a high five.

Talk about specific benefits of eating healthy. Teach kids that proteins and calcium provide strength for sports and play and eating healthy helps them do well in school.

Offer healthy alternatives. Baked tortilla chips and salsa are just as fun as potato chips – and healthier. Fresh fruit dipped in chocolate sauce can solve a sweets craving just like a candy bar would.

Be a role model. If your child sees you choosing healthy foods, she is more likely to follow your lead. Remember, kids are watching your every move.

Allow for indulgences. Completing omitting fun foods like chips and ice cream may actually peak their interest more.

Offer and repeat. When your little one says no to a healthy snack, don’t completely rule it out. Try offering the food again in a few weeks or months – kids change their minds frequently.

Give it time. Developing healthy eating habits takes time.

Talk to your pediatrician if you have specific concerns about your child’s eating habits. Wellness checkups are also a great time to discuss dietary habits.