Healthy eating is a learned skill just like every other developmental milestone in a baby’s life. Trust your kids and be patient!
Being flexible about your child’s food choices will give them the opportunity to eat intuitively; therefore teaching them how to listen to their natural hunger and satiety cues, which is an essential skill if children are to grow up to be balanced eaters
Furthermore, just like adults, a child’s metabolic needs vary on a daily basis. Growth and development is not a perfectly linear process, therefore they will be more or less hungry on any given day
Meals and snacks should be a fun time for your family, and creating the right atmosphere along with offering healthy choices can get great rewards.
1. Respect your child’s appetite-or lack of
If your child isn't hungry, don't force them to eat. Don't bribe or force your child to eat certain foods or clean their plate. This might start or create a power struggle over food. Also, your child might come to associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration or become less sensitive to his or her own hunger and fullness cues.
Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming your child and give him or her the opportunity to independently ask for more.
Stick to a routine.
2. Serve meals and snacks at about the same times every day.
If your child chooses not to eat a meal, a regular snack time will give you an opportunity to eat nutritious food. You can provide milk or 100 percent juice with the food, but offer water between meals and snacks. Allowing your child to fill up on juice, milk or snacks throughout the day might decrease their appetite for meals.
3. Be patient with new foods
Kids often touch or smell new foods, and might even put tiny bits in their mouths and then take them out. Your might need repeated exposure to a new food before they takes the first bite.
Encourage your child by talking about a food's color, shape, smell and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with favorite foods. Keep serving healthy choices until they become familiar and preferred.
4. Don’t be a short order cook
Preparing a separate meal after rejecting the meal you put in front of them can promote being picky. Encourage the kids to stay at the table for the designated mealtime even if they don’t eat.
5. Make it fun!
Serve colorful foods in fun shapes and colors. Use cookie cutters to cut fruit and sandwiches. Serve fun dipping sauces.
6. Ask for kids to help
Take them to the store with you and ask them to help pick out fruits and vegetables. Ask them to rinse the fruits and vegetables, stir batter and set the table.
7. Set a good example
If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child will follow your lead.
8. Be creative
Shred or chop vegetables and add them to sauces and casseroles. It will create texture, color and will be visually pleasing. Top cereal with sliced or cookie cutter cut fruit.
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