June 24, 2022
If children’s nutrition is a sore topic in your household, you’re not alone. Many parents worry about what their children will and won’t eat. However, most kids get plenty of variety and nutrition in their diets over the course of a week. Until your child’s food preferences mature, consider these tips for preventing mealtime battles.
Stick to a Routine
Try to serve meals and snacks at the same time every day. If your child chooses to skip a meal, a regular snack time will offer an opportunity for them to still eat nutritious food.
Respect Your Child’s Appetite
If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack. Likewise, don’t bribe or force your child to eat certain foods. By doing so your child might come to associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration. Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming your child and give them the opportunity to independently ask for more.
Recruit Your Child’s Help
At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy meal items and snacks. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter, and set the table.
Be Patient When Introducing New Foods
Young children often touch and smell new foods before taking a bite. Encourage your child by talking about a food’s color, shape, aroma, and texture and not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with your child’s favorite foods and keep providing your child healthy choices until they become familiar and preferred.
Make Mealtime Fun
Be creative when introducing your child to new foods. Try serving broccoli and other veggies with their favorite dip or sauce, cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters, and offer breakfast foods for dinner.
Set a Good Example
If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to follow suit.
Add chopped vegetables to spaghetti sauce, top cereal with fresh fruit slices, or mix grated zucchini and carrots in with their favorite casseroles and soups.
Turn off the television and other electronic gadgets during meals. Not only will this help your child focus on eating, but it will also keep their wondering eyes away from potentially unhealthy commercials during mealtimes.
Your child’s eating habits won’t change overnight, but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.
Looking for more advice? The dedicated child educators at Les Enfants are always here to help.