Introducing food to children can be both an exciting and scary time for both the parents and the child. Luckily, there are a number of things you can try to create a safe and positive experience for your children to enjoy eating. Childhood is the best time to teach healthy habits that can last a lifetime. One of the most important things you can do is to create a peaceful eating environment that provides positive reinforcement and is free from distraction.
Here are some useful tips that might help you teach healthy habits to your children.
- “Eat the rainbow”, children love colors, so make vegetables and fruits appealing for them.
- Explain food habits to them, they might be more interested in their food if they are aware that eating less packaged food or even growing their own vegetables can help with climate change.
- Have a routine your children can easily follow. Setting up a regular meal and snack schedule will keep them organized.
- Avoid offering them juice or any food or beverages with added sugar.
- Kids don’t need as much food as adults, don’t force them to eat an entire plate if they are satisfied. Instead, serve them the amount that they are most likely to eat and gives them permission to say when they are done.
- Treats should not be used as a reward.
- Explore new tastes, let them figure out what they like and don’t like on their own. Take them to the supermarket or farmers’ market and allow them to pick the fruits and vegetables they like.
- Have family meals at once or twice a week – the more, the better-.
- Once they are a bit older, try cooking and preparing the food together. This helps them develop a meaningful connection with food and with you.
- Don’t put them on a diet, instead focus on a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and on quality nutrition.
Tips for babies
In the case of babies, you have to keep in mind that they have an immature immune system and organs. This is why you have to be extra careful when introducing them to solid food.
- Avoid adding salt to your baby’s food.
- If you buy canned food, opt for the ones with no sodium added or low-sodium brands
- Meat and fish should be well done.
- Don’t give them honey. It can lead to infant botulism, a rare but serious gastrointestinal condition that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis.
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