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Early years healthy weight

Establishing a good routine for your toddler, including regular meal and snack times, regular sleep and nap times will help your toddler to maintain a healthy weight. A healthy lifestyle and weight in these early years helps reduce the risks of being overweight during childhood and adulthood.

The developmental stages of a child in their early years are crucial to a child's development and wellbeing for the rest of their life. A child carrying excess weight can affect day to day tasks for them, such as struggling to stand up from sitting, coordination, difficulty sleeping, and behaviour problems relating to high sugar intake. Changing unhealthy habits can be very difficult.

We all want our children to enjoy their childhood, and taking part in activities we hope all children have the opportunities to take part in, such as playing in the park. Being a healthy weight will help a child to enjoy these activities. 

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A child is regularly measured in their early years at Health Visitor contacts up until the age of 5 years old. From the age of 2 years old, you can calculate your child's body mass index (BMI) using the online calculator. You must enter the date of birth and gender for your child, as it is calculated differently to adults.

You can use the BMI growth charts to plot your child's BMI using the centiles. For more information on using these charts, speak to your GP.

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Top Tips for healthy weight in early years


Being a good role model for your child will encourage them to follow your healthy behaviours. Sign your family up to Change4Life or Start4Life to hear about new tips, recipes, competitions and offers to keep your family healthy together.

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Toddlers should be encouraged to try/eat a range of foods from each food groups and learning about where the food has come from. Keep trying with foods they show any dislike to; research suggests repeating food regularly 13 times will encourage a child accepting the food. Close

There are lots of drinks marketed towards children that contain high amounts of sugar, which can have detrimental effects on their weight and dental health. Choose the right milk and be sugar smart. We should encourage children to drink water as much as possible.

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A diet high in sugar can not only affect a child’s weight, but also their dental health. Find out more about using the right beaker or cup and tips on looking after your child’s teeth.

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Children should limit their time spent sat down to no more than 2 hours a day. Limiting screen time and having toys available for children will help. Start4Life has ideas on how to encourage your child to sit less and play more Close

Physical Activity guidelines for under 5's include 3 hours of physical activity a day.

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Ensuring a child’s environment is safe will give your child the opportunity to be more active. The Child Accident Prevention Trust offers advice about child safety in your home. Close

Evidence shows the link between parental obesity and childhood obesity. Support is available in Wiltshire for adults who want to manage their weight.

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Evidence shows mothers that smoke are more likely to have overweight children. There are also a range of health risks to children who breathe in secondhand smoke. Get support to quit smoking. Close

What support is available in early years?


Wiltshire's Children's Centres offer a range of courses for parents to learn more about a healthy lifestyle for the whole family, including cooking and parenting courses.

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Healthy Start are free vouchers for pregnant women and mothers with children under the gae of 4 years old, who are in receipt of benefits or pregnant and under 18 years old. Vouchers are used to spend on healthy foods and vitamins to give your child the best start in life. Speak to your Midwife or Health Visitor for more information. 

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For support on breastfeeding, there are Mum2Mum breastfeeding peer support groups across Wiltshire. There are also a range of 'Breastfeeding Welcome' cafes.

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Encourage your family to walk or cycle when you could avoid using your car, get support to plan a safe route to walk.

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Sign up to Start4Life for advice and support for you and your baby, including information on breastfeeding, first foods and physical activity for your baby.

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For individual support or any concerns you have about your child's weight and nutrition speak to your Health Visitor who can offer support and advice and signpost to local services.

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Health Trainers can support parents to work towards a healthy weight and eat healthily which has a positive impact on the children and family.

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Last updated: 30 June 2017 | Last reviewed: 30 June 2017