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Change This 1 Thing About Daycare Pickup to Instill Healthier Habits

This simple swap can make a big difference.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published May 10, 2024
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Whether you’re fighting through the traffic or just trying to keep your kiddo entertained after a long day at daycare, parents are bound to supply their kids with a not-so-healthy pickup snack on an almost daily basis.

A new study by Cincinnati Children’s published in the medical journal Children’s Health recently delved into the effects this simple pickup treat might have on your little one’s health and long-term well-being. Researchers found that the hour after kids are picked up from daycare stands out as a high-calorie, less healthy part of their overall diet. Children ages 3 to 5 consume about 20 percent of their day’s entire calorie intake in this hour. That’s 290 calories, on average, out of nearly 1,500 calories eaten daily, an amount on the high end of recommended daily limits.

What’s more, the snacks and drinks popularly served during daycare pickup often account for more than one-fifth of the day’s added sugars and around one-third of a kid’s daily sweet and salty snack foods. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, these numbers, especially the extra sugars, can put kids at risk for obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, among other health problems,

So what can parents do? Cincinnati Children’s researcher and senior author Kristen Copeland, MD, says a simple snack switch can lead to big benefits. Consider stocking the car with veggie sticks, cheese, fruit slices and low-sugar drinks such as water or milk. A few minutes of preparation can make it easier to skip the high-calorie drive-throughs and sugar-loaded packaged snacks.

“Children of preschool age are in a highly habit-forming time of their lives. They thrive on routine,” Copeland said in a press release. “Children often look forward to the car ride home, which makes that time an opportunity to start a healthy snacking habit that could last a lifetime.”

Check out more simple hacks that’ll have your kids reaching for fruits and veggies.

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