As a parent, the nutritional needs of your baby or toddler are obviously a priority, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of differing information out there. The food a child eats in their early years can influence their dietary habits later in life, so it’s important to instill good habits and a healthy relationship with food from an early age.
But lots of times parents come up against lots of challenges when it comes to getting their children to eat healthy. It is important for parents to make small changes rather than big changes and remember to be patient!
Positive encouragement is key! Telling the child that they are doing great and getting so big and strong will encourage the child.
Avoid any negativity when it comes to feeding time. Try not to overwhelm children too much or pressure them into eating food. This will give them a negative outlook on food.
Here are some tips that might help:
- Avoid children grazing and drinking juices throughout the day these can often fill their little bellys, therefore they are not hungry for their lunch/dinner etc.
- Put food individually on a small plate and teach the child about the food, what colour is it? What does it smell like? What does it feel like?The child will begin to show interest.
Allow children to pick what food they want and how much, this will help avoid some of the food battles we face day to day.
- Try making the most of the food items they do like, if they like bread try a variety of breads. If they like soup try different soups /variety of soup.
- Let the child help you cook and get involved in the kitchen with you. The child will really enjoy this and feel excited to show the other family members what they have made. Give them lots of positive praise.
Here are some ways to incorporate some healthy snacks into your child's diet:
- Raw vegetables such as carrot, cucumber, celery, cherry tomatoes etc. Serve with a little pot of hummus, bean dip, guacamole or soft cheese
- Chunks of cheese with crackers
- Whole meal bread or oat cakes with wafer thin ham, cream cheese or peanut butter
- Homemade soup with fingers of toast
- Frozen fruit lollys
- Smoothies – great way incorporate fruit into your child's diet
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