Highlands Connect Training


The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states that good NUTRUTION during the first 2 years of live is “VITAL for healthy growth and development”. But getting babies, and especially toddlers, to eat much of ANYTHING, let alone nutritious food, can be HARDER than it sounds.

Kids are SO picky! But if you know the benefits of good nutrition AND are armed with some tools to help make HEALTHY eating more “fun”, you will be able to give your children a jump start on healthy BODIES and healthy BRAINS.


The American Association for Pediatrics estimates that 1 out of every 3 children is overweight or obese

The Children’s Defense Organization states the following:

Nationally, only 2% of children meet the USDA Food Guide Pyramid recommendations and only 16% of children do not meet ANY food group recommendations.

Only 22% of kids in the US eat the recommended 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Vegetable consumption kids DIMINISHED by 42% between 1997-2002


Poor nutrition can result in the following:

Slow growth rate

Inadequate bone mass

Childhood obesity

Increased risk for chronic illness

Lowered resistance to infectious disease

Dental concerns

Low academic achievement

IQ deficits

Check out this awesome video about feeding kids:


Start solid foods around 4-6 months of age (baby cereals are recommended)

No whole milk until child is 1-year old

Let kids dictate when they are full

Immune boosting foods: garlic, probiotics, blueberries, yogurt


Estimated Calorie Needs per Day by Age & Gender

Estimated amounts of calories needed to maintain calorie balance for various gender and age. The estimates are rounded to the nearest 200 calories for assignment to a USDA Food Pattern. An individual's calorie needs may be higher or lower than these average estimates based on activity level.

Female Male
Age(years) Calories(per day)
2-3 1,000 1,000
4-8 1,200 - 1,400 1,200 - 1,400
9-13 1,400 - 1,600 1,600 - 2,000
14-18 1,800 2,000 - 2,400

Based on Estimated Energy Requireiments (EER) equations, using reFerence heights (average) and reference weights (healthy) for each age-gender group. For children and adolescents, reference height and weight vary.


Kids can be super PICKY eaters! The most important thing to remember is not to make mealtime STRESSFUL. The more RELAXED you are, the more relaxed (and open to new food) your kiddos will be. Here are some tips for getting kids to eat HEALTHY:

Offer choices – let kids feel in control of their plates. Try having 2 vegetables/2 fruits to pick from at each meal. Letting them feel empowered goes a long way with kids who are trying new things.

Snack small – offering small, frequent, and healthy snacks throughout the day helps kids stay hungry for meals but also allows them to try a variety of healthy foods in unintimidating portions throughout the day.

Lead by example – young children, especially toddlers, will want to eat things that you are eating. If you are making healthy choices, your children will be more apt to try the same foods.

Make it fun – serving bright, bold colors cut into cute shapes (maybe with cookie cutters) is a great way to take the “scary” out of new foods. Try this look for some “FUN” food ideas:


Another component to keeping KIDS healthy is PHYSICAL activity.

Watch this video and learn about all the benefits of physical activity for children:


The US Department of Health and Senior Services makes the following recommendations regarding physical activity:

60 minutes or more of PHYSICAL activity a day.

MUSCLE-STRENGTHENING at least 3 days a week

BONE-STRENGTHENING at least 3 days a week


So HOW in the world can we get kids moving for 60+ minutes a day?!

Let’s look at some TIPS and TRICKS:

Break it up – breaking up physical activity into chunks makes the. 60 minutes+ seem much more manageable. Take a walk around the neighborhood for 20 minutes, you’re 1/3 of the way there!

Make it fun – you don’t have to make kids do an exercise class or a strict workout routine to account for physical activity. Play a game of tag, jump on a trampoline, throw a dance party, or try one of these fun ideas:


If you DO want to do a more formal exercise time with your kiddos, check out this video (and others made by Little Sport) on YouTube

Yet another important HEALTHY habit for children is a proper amount of SLEEP. Just like eating healthy and staying ACTIVE, getting kids to sleep can be tough!

Check out this CLIP for information about what lack-of-sleep can do to children:


So, how long SHOULD kids be sleeping? Let’s take a look at what the EXPERTS at the SleepFoundation have to say:

0-3 months: 14-17 hours

4-11 months: 12-15 hours

1-2 years: 11-14 hours

3-5 years: 10-13 hours

6-13 years: 9-11 hours

14-17 years: 8-10 hours

This chart can be super HELPFUL for determining an ideal BEDTIME for your child.

How much sleep does your child need?
Wake up Time:
AGE 6:00am 6:15am 6:30am 6:45am 7:00am 7:15am 7:30am
3* 6:30pm 6:45pm 7:00pm 7:15pm 7:30pm 7:45pm 8:00pm
4* 7:00pm 7:15pm 7:30pm 7:45pm 8:00pm 8:15pm 8:30pm
5 6:45pm 7:00pm 7:15pm 7:30pm 7:45pm 8:00pm 8:15pm
6 7:00pm 7:15pm 7:30pm 7:45pm 8:00pm 8:15pm 8:30pm
7 7:15pm 7:30pm 7:45pm 8:00pm 8:15pm 8:30pm 8:45pm
8 7:30pm 7:45pm 8:00pm 8:15pm 8:30pm 8:45pm 9:00pm
9 7:45pm 8:00pm 8:15pm 8:30pm 8:45pm 9:00pm 9:15pm
10 8:00pm 8:15pm 8:30pm 8:45pm 9:00pm 9:15pm 9:30pm
11 8:15pm 8:30pm 8:45pm 9:00pm 9:15pm 9:30pm 9:45pm
12 8:30pm 8:45pm 9:00pm 9:15pm 9:30pm 9:45pm 10:00pm
13 8:45pm 9:00pm 9:15pm 9:30pm 9:45pm 10:00pm 10:15pm

*Plus a daytime nap of between 1 and 3 hours' duration. (Kidsfirst Children's Services)

Helping kids go to bed at the PROPER time and get the RIGHT amount of sleep can be much HARDER than it sounds. If you are struggling with bedtime, CONSIDER trying some of these tricks:

Watch this video for GREAT information:

Set up a bedtime ROUTINE (AND STICK TO IT!) – helping kids set up a PREDICTABLE routine before bed can actually help them fall asleep faster and stay asleep LONGER. Take a look at this ARTICLE for help building a bedtime routine:


Stay CALM – when you get frustrated at your child, you can cause your child to become HYPERAROUSED and/or anxious which releases ADRENALINE in his/her little body. Adrenaline is used in our fight or flight response and promotes WAKEFULNESS and it will be nearly impossible for a child in “fight or flight” mode to fall ASLEEP.

Give some GRACE - falling asleep at a GOOD time and staying ASLEEP can take time. Take it SLOW and remember to have grace! Start SMALL, celebrate little victories, and trust the PROCESS.


BALANCING work, your own health, schoolwork, childcare, keeping up the house/chores, parenting, AND keeping kids healthy can seem overwhelming. But the good news is, you don’t have to be perfect. Small, SIMPLE changes can make big differences!

JOURNAL PROMPT: For your journal assignment this week, write down 12 healthy changes you want to implement for your children. Then, number them in order of importance. Tackle one healthy habit per month. Small goals are best.

If you NEVER eat vegetables, maybe you want to serve vegetables with 3 meals a week. Maybe you want your child to NAP on the weekends. Maybe it is as simple as offering your child WATER with 1 meal a day instead of juice or soda. Like we’ve said, these seemingly small changes can make drastic IMPACTS in your child’s life. And, by the end of 1 year, you will have made HUGE gains in creating healthy habits for your children.


If your kids are old enough to help set MONTHLY goals, sit down as a family and fill out this free goals WORKSHEET together at the beginning of each month – keeping kids involved helps them stay MOTIVATED and FOCUSED on meeting healthy goals!


Highlands Connect Workbook

Follow along with the download printable PDF or purchase full color spiral version.