Celebrate Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 4th!

Bike to School Day

Celebrate Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 4th!

Bike to School Day encourages a nationwide bike-focused celebration for students in the month of May and builds on the popularity and success of Walk to School Day, which is celebrated across the country – and the world – each October.

Celebrate Bike to School Day by helping your child be a safe bicyclist.

Bicycling is a fun and healthy way to spend time with your child and the best way to gauge your child’s bicycling skills and judgment. Consider the following three steps before your child rides to school.

  1. Do a bike and helmet check
  • Bike fit: When sitting on the bike with feet on the pedals, there should be a slight bend in the knee when the pedal is closest to the ground.
  • Bike visibility: The bike should have reflectors on the front, back, and both wheels. If riding when it’s dark or nearly dark, there should also be lights on the front and back.
  • Helmet fit: Take the helmet fit test
  1. Assess and build skills

If you don’t already ride together regularly, take your child to a quiet parking lot or empty street to assess and teach basic skills. Children (and bicyclists of all ages) need to know how to do the following things:

  • Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective gear, with helmet buckled, shoelaces tied and pant leg on the chain side tucked so it can’t get caught.
  • Make sure the tires have enough air, brakes and gears work, the chain isn’t loose, and wheels and bolts are tight.
  • Keep eyes and ears open.
  • Watch for vehicles going in and out of driveways and alleys.
  • Keep both hands on the handlebars except when signaling. Carry books and other items in a backpack or bag designed to fit on a bicycle.
  • Stop before crossing the street, entering a road, or turning. Look left, right, left, and behind for traffic, including pedestrians, bicycles, and cars.

For riding in the street:

  • Ride in the same direction as traffic (with the flow) in a single file.
  • Ride to the right side of the road, but far enough from parked cars to avoid any car doors that suddenly open.
  • Obey traffic laws. Follow all traffic signs, signals and lane markings.
  • Be predictable. Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars. Use hand signals.
  1. Plan the route and try it out

Work with your child to pick the route to school and practice riding the route together.

  • Choose streets with minimal traffic and lower speeds, and look for routes where you can ride separate from traffic using a path or bicycle lane.
  • Limit the number of street crossings, and avoid crossing busy or high-speed streets. Talk with your child about whether it’s okay to ride alone, with friends, or only when an adult is on the ride. Children under age ten generally do not have the ability to manage traffic situations on their own, and may be safest riding on the sidewalk or a bike path. Some communities do not permit children to ride on the sidewalk, so check before making a decision.



The Power of Teachers

By Emily Hulse, MS

Teachers.  Hopefully each of us can recall many times in our lives where we experienced the great power of teachers.  I sure can – too many times to write down without turning this blog post into a novel.  Let’s just say in my book that I consider Teachers to be super heroes EVERY day!


I want to write about one particular power that teachers possess.  It’s the influence and great potential they can have on helping children to make healthy choices.  When we deliver trainings to early childhood professionals, throughout the training modules we stress how big of a role they play in promoting early development of healthy behaviors and how much of a difference they can make (often times I think they underestimate their level of influence).  Parents are typically the most important role model a child has in developing healthy (or unhealthy) behaviors.  However, the next closest role model to that I believe is the child’s teacher.  I’ve seen this various times in the lives of my young children already.

Here’s one of the most recent examples.  Meet Maddie.  She’s 4 and in her first year of preschool.


One of their units at preschool this month was on healthy eating!  Yay!  I was excited for her to get to learn about nutrition with her class and realize it isn’t just something mom thinks is important.  One of the activities they did was taste a rainbow.  Every family signed up to bring different colors of fruits and vegetables and then the children got to make a rainbow on their plate with them and try all of the different kinds and colors.  I was shocked when Maddie’s teacher wrote in her journal how she ate everything on her rainbow (including the peppers) and encouraged her friends to try them too.  The first thing she said when I saw her from school was Mom, I ate peppers!  She was sooooo proud and excited.  See this is funny and interesting to me because peppers are one of my favorite vegetables; I love red peppers especially!   They are normally found in my vegetable drawer in the fridge and my girls are always asking me, mom, did you put peppers in this?!  Do you know how many times I’ve offered her peppers in a variety of ways?!  However, in this case, the teacher offered them and made them part of a fun classroom activity and praised the children for trying new foods and Maddie was all about the peppers.  She even asked me for peppers at lunch a couple days after this activity (and of course, wouldn’t you know it that was one of the few times they weren’t in my fridge!).  Then another day she went and found the plastic pepper in her play food bin and came and gave it to me and was reminding me how she tried peppers at school.  We often tell early childhood professionals that the child care or school setting is one of the best places to introduce new foods, especially fruits and vegetables.  Case in point.

Maddie’s classroom also got to use a lot of the activities, games, books, etc. from my nutrition tote that I use for work.  She had seen a lot of this stuff at home already but new excitement was brought for these items after using them with her teacher and classmates.  She now asks me about playing with them more and reminds her older sister about making a healthy plate.

As mentioned before in regards to parents, being a positive role model when it comes to healthy eating is of course very important (just as everything else they’ll do what they see us do and not what we just tell them they should do – instead we have to show them).  I don’t mean at all for this post to overlook that but I want to stress the level of influence that classroom teachers have on children of all ages and how that shouldn’t be overlooked.  They possess a great amount of power too when it comes to this.

At a recent meeting, I heard about many of the great new things LPS is doing in some of the school lunch rooms.  One of these included taking pictures of the teachers at that particular school eating vegetables and then hanging them up in the cafeteria.  They know that if children see their teachers eating something, then they are in turn more likely to try the food.  Since teachers of school aged children aren’t sitting down and eating in the lunch rooms with their classes though, they did the best next thing they could think of.  Take fun pictures of the teachers and hang them for the children to see during lunch time.

I know how much my children look up to their teachers and want to be like them.  They listen to everything they say and watch carefully everything they do (and eat and drink) and they soak it all up like they are little sponges.  Because even though I studied nutrition in college and now teach others about it, my girls are more likely to have healthy behaviors, if they are also being taught and modeled in their classroom settings as well by their wonderful teachers.  A team effort between the home and child care or school is the best approach to helping our children have healthy behaviors!


International Walk to School Day is Wednesday, October 7th


I became involved with Teach a Kid to Fish nearly 7 years ago as a result of my involvement with Safe Routes to School and promoting walking and biking to school. It’s something I’ continue to be very passionate about. I have posted and reposted this information numerous times in a variety of different formats, but it never gets old.

Why Walk or Bike to School?

Walking or biking to school is a great way to put some meaningful activity into each day. Kids walking with classmates; parents walking with kids; communities walking together! If you live too far from your school and driving is a necessity, consider parking your car several blocks away from school and adding a short walk to your daily routine. This accomplishes several things. It helps you put some activity into your day AND it relieves congestion around your school. Walking and bicycling to school enables children to incorporate the regular physical activity they need each day while also forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Regular physical activity helps children build strong bones, muscles and joints, and it decreases the risk of obesity. In contrast, insufficient physical activity can contribute to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day. Research suggests that physically active kids are more likely to become healthy, physically active adults, underscoring the importance of developing the habit of regular physical activity early.

The whole community benefits from efforts to enable and encourage more children to walk or bicycle to school safely. Benefits include:

Less traffic congestion. According to the 2011 National Center for Safe Routes to School report, personal vehicles taking students to school accounted for 10 to 14 percent of all personal vehicle trips made during the morning peak commute times (based on National Household Travel Survey Data, 2009). Reducing the number of private vehicles commuting to school can reduce morning traffic around the school. Less traffic congestion also improves conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, creating a positive cycle—as the community sees more people walking and biking, more people feel comfortable walking and bicycling.

Stronger sense of community. The common goal of improving conditions for walking and bicycling brings families, neighbors, school officials and community leaders together. The sense of community also builds as children and parents develop walking and bicycling buddies and chat with neighbors on the sidewalk or path.

Safer streets. Communities with higher rates of walking and bicycling tend to have lower crash rates for all travel modes. One reason may be that motorists drive more cautiously when they expect to encounter walkers and bicyclists. More walkers and bicyclists can also improve personal security by providing more “eyes on the street.”

Lower costs. Encouraging and enabling bicycle and pedestrian trips reduces costs for the family, community and school district. Families save on gas, communities spend less on building and maintaining roads and school districts spend less on busing. In fact, one school district calculated $237,000 in annual savings.

Improved accessibility. Enabling students of all abilities to walk and bicycle to school makes it easier for everyone in the community to get around, including parents with strollers, senior citizens, residents without cars and residents with temporary or permanent mobility impairments.

Economic gains. Sidewalks, paths and other investments in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure can increase home values and direct additional traffic to local businesses.

International Walk to School Day is a global event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day. It began in 1997 as a one-day event. Over time, this event has become part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration – with record breaking participation – each October. Today, thousands of schools across America – from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico – participate every October.

You can learn more about the international movement to encourage walking and biking to school at http://walkbiketoschool.org/


Got Breastmilk? To Donate?

By Emily Hulse, MS

 I recently wrote a blog post in honor of National Dairy Month.  I thought I might as well continue with the milk theme for my blog posts seeing how this month is National Breastfeeding Month.  Decades of research have proven that breastmilk is the perfect food for infants and has numerous benefits, some of which are listed below and also pictured:

  • Breastfed babies are generally healthier.
  • Research has shown:- Less diarrhea and gastrointestinal infections
    – Less severe upper respiratory infections, less wheezing, less pneumonia, and less influenza

    – Lower rates of Leukemia and SIDS
    – Less ear infections
    – Stronger immune system

  • Breastmilk is the most easily digested food.
  • It promotes babies healthy growth and development

Research is still continuing in this area and new benefits of breastmilk continue to be identified.  A more recent finding is that breastfeeding helps protect against childhood obesity; breastfeeding for 9 months reduces a baby’s odds of becoming overweight by more than 30%.

Breastfed Baby

I am blessed with 3 children and I’ve seen many of the benefits first hand that are listed above as I’ve breastfed each one of them.  I am grateful that I’ve had positive breastfeeding experiences with each of my babies and I attribute much of this to the following:  a supportive husband, family, and friends, a supportive, flexible work environment, a healthy body that always makes more than enough milk for my babies, and babies that have been good, efficient nursers.  Unfortunately, I know that this isn’t always the case for mothers.  I’ve had friends that have done everything they can but their milk never comes in, friends that don’t have a supportive environment when they return to work and aren’t always able to pump when needed, friends that have had to supplement with formula because their body doesn’t make quite enough milk for their baby, and friends with babies that don’t latch on or nurse well.  I wish the above cases didn’t exist, especially for those mothers who really long to be able to exclusively breastfeed, but the reality is they do.    Was there something I could do to help perhaps?

I remember when I had my second child in 2011, Madison, my mom opened the freezer once and stood there and looked at all of the frozen breastmilk and said, “What are you going to do with ALL of that milk?”  I remember responding with something like, “I don’t know.  I don’t think I’ll be able to use it all.”  At the time, I didn’t know about local milk banks or other places to donate it.  Fast forward to February of this year, I gave birth to our third child, Lincoln James.  (He has stole my ♥)


Between having Madison and Lincoln, I had learned of the Milk Bank of Iowa thanks to colleagues.  I knew that when I had my third baby, I wanted to be a breastmilk donor so that ALL of that milk and its many benefits could be taken advantage of by babies that needed it most.  “The Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa (http://www.uichildrens.org/mothers-milk-bank) serves hospitalized infants in the Midwest and beyond; the main recipients of donated milk are babies who are the most fragile, vulnerable, and at risk.  When donations permit, they also dispense to infants at home.”

Before having Lincoln, I contacted them to learn more about the process of becoming an approved milk donor because I knew there were certain qualifications I would have to meet.  These consisted of the following:  reading pre-screening information that was e-mailed to me, answering a 5-10 minute verbal questionnaire after the baby was born, filling out about a 10 page questionnaire, getting a signed approval form from both my doctor and my baby’s pediatrician, and going to St. Elizabeth’s for a blood test (which is of NO cost to the donor).  Learn more about it at http://www.uichildrens.org/milk-donor-information/

I knew why it was important that such an intensive process was in place but in all honesty, the process sounded like a lot to me and as a mom with an infant and two other kiddos to care for everything seemed overwhelming at first.  You know how it is – you’re lucky to get a shower in those first few weeks and you’re so sleep deprived it’s hard to function – let alone get the time and energy to have a phone conversation, fill out a bunch of paperwork, and trek over to St. E’s.  Nonetheless, I knew that it was something important and something I really wanted to do so it took me a little while to get everything done (they didn’t rush me through the process I worked through at my own pace) that was required to be an approved donor.  The Mother’s Milk Bank was SO wonderful, understanding, and easy to work with.  They try to make everything as easy as possible for you and answer any and all of your questions.  Also, when you drop your donated milk off at St. Elizabeth’s they come out to your car and pick it up so you don’t have to go inside.  ☺

The Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa asks that if at all possible donors be willing to donate a minimum of 200 oz. over the entire lactation time.  I remember when I first read that and was still pregnant with Lincoln, I told a friend, “200 ounces is A LOT!  I don’t know if I can commit to that much.  Maybe I shouldn’t do it.”  She reminded me that even if I pumped an extra ounce a day that I could easily do it and that it would all add up quicker than I thought.  I was thankful for her reassuring and calming words that day.  Well, fast forward again a bit – my sweet baby boy is now almost 6 months old (I know, how can that be?) – and I can’t believe it but over the past 6 months, I’ve been able to donate about 500 oz. of milk and not just to the Milk Bank of Iowa but to other moms with babies in need of it!!  I share this b/c like I mentioned earlier I hesitated to commit b/c I thought 200 oz. was a lot but my friend was right, it just all added up quickly.

One of my best friends also gave birth to a baby boy shortly before I did and then her husband had a colleague that his wife gave birth to beautiful twin girls shortly after our babies arrived.  Long story short, he expressed to my friend one day while out at lunch with her and her husband how his wife was really struggling with milk supply.  Later my friend was telling me this and said, “Do you think it would be weird if I offered them some of my extra frozen breastmilk?”  I said, “No, I think that would be wonderful and if they would also like some more I would love to give them some too.”  Turns out they didn’t think it was weird at all and they took us up on our offer; their baby’s tummies were very sensitive and it was difficult finding a formula they could tolerate.  I’m glad she stepped slightly out of her comfort zone to offer the milk because they appreciated it.

I also recently learned of a non-profit organization called, “Human Milk 4 Human Babies – Nebraska.”  I was also able to donate a small amount of milk to 3 different Lincoln moms.  There is a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HM4HB.Nebraska) where people post either if you have milk to offer or if you are in need of milk.  This is different than the milk bank though because you do not go through a screening process or anything.

I never imagined when becoming a milk donor, that not only would I be able to donate to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa, but that I also would be able to donate to four local moms who were really needing breastmilk as well because of babies not tolerating formula well.  So many babies are in need of breastmilk, especially premature babies.  If you are like me and have wondered what to do with that extra milk or know of a friend or family member that is looking for a place to donate hopefully this post has been helpful to you – that is my purpose in writing it.  To inform others of these options and also to help normalize breast milk donation and learn the need for it.

Ekhard E. Ziegler, MD Professor, Divisions of Pediatric Nutrition and Neonatology UI Department of Pediatrics Associate Medical Director and Co-founder, Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa stated,

“Breast milk is more than a food for premature babies, it is powerful medicine that protects these infants.  It is also very easy on their tender stomachs and thus allows babies to reach full feeds sooner.  When moms can’t provide milk for their babies, for whatever reason, milk from healthy donors fills the gap. With few exceptions, donor milk is as good as mom’s own milk in protecting babies from serious illness.”


The Family Dinner Project

There was a picture in the newspaper recently of a small family group (dad, mom and child) snuggled together in the child’s bed with the father reading a bedtime story. The picture accompanied an article about the rewards of being a stay-at-home dad. Having been in that position with my two boys several years ago, the picture brought back some very fond memories of some my favorite parental experiences. I still remember all the stories we read together every time I walk into our playroom as our book shelves are still over-flowing with all of the great books we read over and over and over again. From the “Little Engine that Could” to “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”, from Arthur to the Berenstain Bears… and then on to Harry Potter and the wonderful “Series of Unfortunate Events”, we truly loved the experience of reading and telling stories together as a family. I started to wonder what takes the place of those experiences as our kids grow?

I might have longed for those days that seemed to be device-free when all of our attention was on each other rather than that little pocket-sized brain leech (though I, too, have to admit that I love my iWhatever). However, it occurs to me that we have that time that is much like the hours we spent reading and telling all of those wonderful stories…. It’s our family meal-time. Rather than snuggled under blankets, we are around a table. Often the stories are told through mouthfuls of food. Sometimes the tales are admonitory, tedious, hilarious, angry, tearful, contentious, …. All the ingredients of a good story. Some stories, like many of the best books we shared, are told over and over again. Best of all, this time is device-free and, except for the food, attention is usually front and center. Family mealtime gives us the opportunity to tell each other the stories of our day. We share observations, experiences, difficulties, jokes, riddles and the all-important daily schedule! The communication and bonding that happens during the family meal is a great way to connect in much the same way we did over the nightly bedtime story.

Another activity that has taken the place of the nightly story time is the family card game…. Usually it’s cards, though we are also given to shaming each other at ping-pong or badminton. There are a number of wonderful things that have happened over the past couple of years that have made these family game nights a true joy. Though the three males in the family are highly competitive, winning or losing has taken a back seat to fun… and we DO have a blast, with games often deteriorating into crippling spasm of hilarity.  Also, the games we play often become part of the stories we tell each other over the family meal.

Of course, with two high school students in the house it’s impossible to gather for a family meal every evening. There are many events and extra-curricular activities that get in the way of the regularly scheduled dinner… but those activities are good things AND they just add to the story-telling.

I’ve recently come across an organization called The Family Dinner Project (http://thefamilydinnerproject.org/). The Family Dinner Project is a growing movement of food, fun and conversation about things that matter. The Family Dinner Project is a nonprofit organization currently operating from the offices of Project Zero at Harvard University.

Project Zero is an educational research group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education composed of multiple, independently-sponsored research projects. Since 1967, Project Zero has examined the development of learning processes in children, adults, and organizations. Today, Project Zero’s work includes investigations into the nature of intelligence, understanding, thinking, creativity, ethics, and other essential aspects of human learning. Their mission is to understand and enhance high-level thinking and learning across disciplines and cultures and in a range of contexts, including schools, businesses, museums, and digital environments.

Over the past 15 years, research has shown what parents have known for a long time: Sharing a fun family meal is good for the spirit, brain and health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family meals with the kinds of behaviors that parents want for their children: higher grade-point averages, resilience and self-esteem. Additionally, family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression. The Family Dinner Project also believe in the power of family dinners to nourish ethical thinking.

Now, through this movement, families will come together to share their experiences and insights to help each other realize the benefits of family dinners. Together, they’ll figure out the resources needed – like tips for setting dinnertime goals, overcoming obstacles such as conflicting schedules and engaging everyone in meaningful conversation – to improve the frequency and quality of their mealtime interaction.

Join the movement. Join your family for dinner. Share a meal and share some conversation. The memories and lessons learned and shared will last a lifetime.


What’s the Big Problem with Water?

by Christy Burger

We all know that drinking water is important for our health. Most people are unaware that they are slightly dehydrated. So why don’t we drink water? With all of the beverage options, why would someone want to drink just plain water? Coffee, soda, juice, smoothies, tea are just some of the more tasty and popular options. Our bodies are more than 72% water. Water is important for brain function, blood volume, muscle function and weight control. What is a concerning is the lack of water intake in our children.

A study published in the Archives of diseases noted at least 70% of children do not drink just plain water at all. As a part of my position with Teach a Kid to Fish, I work with day care centers within Lancaster County on nutrition and physical activity environments, policies and practices. In most of the centers I have worked with, there tends to be one thing missing from the menu, water! Children need between 1.7 to 3.3 Liters of water a day. When children do not get enough water in their diets, there is a reduction in their mental and physical performance. Just like in adults, being dehydrated or low in water causes headaches, irritability and sleepiness. Why would anyone want that?

A lot of the time, parents and care givers will serve milk or juice instead of water with meals and snacks. In most cases, this is because these food items are reimbursable by the Child and Adult Care Food program. 100% juice can be counted as a fruit, and milk can be counted as a dairy serving. Although these are great things for children to have, they can lead to some health and behavior issues when consumed in excess.  Juice (even 100% juice) is really high in sugar. Whole fruit is high in both fiber and sugar. Fiber is important for digestive health. It also helps keep children and adults fuller longer. When sugar is combined with fiber, the child tends to not experience a sugar rush.  Sugar rushes can lead to classroom behavior issues. Excess sugar can also cause cavities and excessive diarrhea. Just like in adults, we want children to eat (not drink) most of their calories. Our bodies also use water to process these beverages, leading to further dehydration and increasing the need for water. Additionally, children who do not drink enough water will start to confuse thirst with hunger. This can cause excessive weight gain as well as further dehydration.

It is very important that we encourage good health behaviors in children. Children need to drink plenty of water. This is especially important when playing outside. Try to encourage children to drink 8oz of water for every 15 minutes of outdoor play. Here are some tips on how to increase your child’s water intake.

  • Serve water cold
  • Try adding fruit to water to add some flavor
  • Give children unlimited access to water
  • Remind children to drink water every 15 minutes during outdoor play or physical activity
  • Use fun drinking glasses and/or straws
  • Serve water with every meal in addition to other beverages being served
  • Cut or dilute juices with water
  • Eat water rich foods like watermelon
  • Try fun shaped ice cubes
  • Talk about the benefits of drinking water with kids
  • Role model good water habits

Got Milk?

By Emily Hulse, MS

Earlier this month we made a visit to Hy-vee to see this new baby calf pictured below.  Isn’t it cute and can you believe it’s only one day old?!  (Mya is sporting a pink “milk mustache” in this picture if you’re wondering what that band-aid looking thing is above her lip.)

girls and cow

My girls are quite the animal lovers to say the least!  (If it was up to them we would be living on a farm.)  Me on the other hand – not so much.  I guess it would help if I wasn’t allergic to most animals.  However, I can’t see a dairy cow without it making me smile and feel so happy.  See, my Grandma Ada McConnell was a dairy farmer for 40+ years and an amazing one to say the least!  Growing up we spent a lot of time on her farm.  I remember sitting on the step in the milk barn watching her milk cows and having the greatest conversations with her and admiring everything she did.  I remember feeding the new baby cows with big bottles and being in awe of how fast they would guzzle that thing down and how strong they were already.

dog and cowsmilk maid

June is National Dairy month if you haven’t yet heard.  Hence, the event at Hy-vee that I took my girls to and why it has me reminiscing about my wonderful Grandma Ada and her dairy farm.  So I thought a little Dairy 101 might be in order for a blog post this month:

Dairy is one of the five food groups (pictured below on MyPlate), which is the current nutrition guide.  All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are part of this food group.  Foods made from milk that retain or keep their calcium content are part of the group.  Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, butter, and cream, are not part of the group.

Some examples of foods in the Dairy Group include the following:  Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Milk-based desserts (frozen yogurt, ice cream, pudding made with milk), and calcium-fortified soymilk.


Foods from the Dairy Group provide calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein, vitamin A, and other nutrients needed for good health throughout life.


Do you know that there are 206 bones in the human body?  That’s a lot of bones that we need to take good care of!  Bones are living tissue -meaning they are always changing.  Since childhood and adolescence are a time of very, very fast growth, as parents we need to remember it’s an especially important time where peak bone mass can be increased in our children (peak bone mass refers to the maximum bone size and strength).

How do we increase the peak bone mass and help bones to be strong so they don’t break easily?  By eating foods from the dairy group because they have calcium in them and also by doing bone strengthening physical activities, such as running, skipping, jumping, walking, or playing sports like basketball or gymnastics.

Some TIPS and TRICKS to remember in regards to dairy:

  • Remember as a parent, it’s your job to decide what, when, and where your child eats. Offer milk only with meals and snacks, while seated at the table. If your child is thirsty between meals and snacks, offer water.
  • Foods from the Dairy Group can add protein to snacks. Offer cheese or yogurt with fruits and veggies for a healthy boost between meals.
  • Your child CAN drink too much milk; more than 3 cups or 24 oz. would be considered too much. In addition to the extra calories, too much milk can fill kids up, increasing the chance that they give up on other nutrient-rich foods.  So, limit your child to the recommended amount per day (see the chart at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/dairy.html for how much food from the dairy group is needed daily and also for what counts as a cup) and make sure they get a wide variety of nutritious foods.                                                                                          *If they are getting more than the recommended amount, gradually reduce the frequency and amount of milk given.
  • Which milk should I choose? After age two, most children can switch to low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk.  The good news is that all milk, from skim to whole, contains about the same amount of calcium and other important nutrients per serving.  Calcium helps to build strong bones, teeth, and muscles and also helps you to keep a regular heartbeat and a healthy blood pressure.  Choosing low-fat or fat-free milk helps to decrease the amount of calories, total fat, and saturated fat consumed.
  • One of my girls is a milk drinker and the other not so much. Here’s some ways we add milk into her diet since she’s not a fan of drinking it straight:
    • Make oatmeal with milk instead of water (and she is excited that now she can make it all by herself).
    • When we make hot chocolate we use milk instead of water.
    • Instead of buying the ready to go pudding cups, we usually try to buy the box of instant pudding and make it that way (and they love to stir it).
    • We make tomato soup with milk instead of water.
    • We make fruit smoothies, just using some milk, yogurt, fruit, and ice. Then whatever smoothie mix I have left, I pour into popsicle molds and freeze them.  This helps so that the leftover mix isn’t wasted and then the girls have a cold, healthy treat on a hot day.
    • yogurt pops
    • And of course, remembering to eat other foods in the dairy group that are made out of milk, such as:
      • Low-fat yogurt (She loves yogurt and fruit, especially strawberries and enjoys making her own yogurt parfait by choosing the fruit, cereal or granola, and yogurt and then layering it herself.)
      • Cheese
      • Cottage cheese