Learn more about the safe use of nutrition apps for or about children.
Overview of apps about children's nutrition
There are a variety of apps about nutrition for children. The focus of these apps ranges from recipes, meal plans, weight management advice and nutrition education. Some apps are aimed at parents or caregivers, with suggestions of actions they can take to support their child, while other apps are targeted directly to children.
- Nutrition-themed apps for children include content relevant to children (not parents) about food and drinks.
- These apps often use strategies to increase child engagement such as gamification and images to incite fun and interaction.
- A Canadian review of nutrition-themed apps for children found that apps included food and drink content not recommended by dietary guidelines, with gaming apps more likely to display food which are not recommended than their nongaming counterparts. Many apps had a moderate app quality, and the use of consequences (instead of rewards) was the most common behaviour change technique. Read more: The Content, Quality, and Behavior Change Techniques in Nutrition-Themed Mobile Apps for Children in Canada: App Review and Evaluation Study.
Tips when looking for apps about children's nutrition
- Look for apps from a recognised and credible source, such as, a dietitian or health organisation.
- Use an app for food inspiration or to plan and record food intake.
- Adapt and amend recipes to include plenty of vegetables, less salt and sugar.
- Trust everything you are told. Its important to cross check advice with a trusted source or health professional.
- Rely on apps which use food databases which are not from New Zealand or Australia.
Apps that may be helpful
Apps that are NOT recommended
The following are examples of apps that are not recommended.
Recipes for Kids
Recipes for Kids is for parents who have the ability to either amend the recipes to make more nutritionally balance or those who have the ability to screen the content and only selected the recipes which are nutritionally balanced and cooked using healthy methods. The app is a recipe library. There is access to videos of some recipes, ability to flag recipes which are favourites, alongside a lot of advertisements. In addition it has the ability to record a shopping list and search for recipes based on ingredients.
Comment (Frances Arenhold, Registered Dietitian)
This app is just a recipe database. Recipes do not go through a screening process. Majority of recipes are not nutritionally balanced (fish and chips, desserts, meals with no vegetables, fried foods, excess sugar and salt) and only few recipes are clearly targeted at children. There are excessive ads in this app. This App should not be used to source healthy, nutritional balanced, everyday recipes for children.
The app has the potential to misguide users on what nutritional balanced and healthy meals for children are. Recipes are not screened to determine if they are “healthy” and most are not nutritionally balanced and written recipe structure is hard to follow. Overall, this app has little New Zealand relevance because most of the recipes are from overseas.
The following are credible New Zealand websites that have information about childhood nutrition.
- KidsHealth New Zealand
- Easy Choice Family Kai
- Healthy Babies Healthy Futures
- Healthy Kids
- NZ Nutrition Foundation
- Heart Foundation
- 5+a day
Brochures and guidelines
- Health eating guidelines for New Zealand babies and toddlers (0-2 years old) Ministry of Health, 2021
- Healthy eating for young people Ministry of Health, New Zealand
- 5+a day
- Five ways to help your child become a confident eater Heart Foundation