It is never too early to start teaching your child good eating habits. You can start inculcating good eating habits as soon as you start feeding your infant solid food.
The habits your infant learns at this age will last a lifetime. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while teaching your infant healthy eating habits:
When it comes to feeding your infant solid food, there are plenty of flavors to choose from. Do not limit your child’s diet to any one or two particular fruits or vegetables. Offer him a different flavor each day. This expands his palate and at a later age will reduce chances of displaying fussy behavior.
Your baby has a tiny stomach and knows his own limits. Forcing your child to eat when he is not hungry does not build healthy eating habits. Instead, it will only make him averse to foods. Look at what your child is trying to tell you through his body language. If he spits out familiar food, pushes the spoon away, covers his face with his hands or turns away from the food, he is probably trying to tell you that he is full. If you feel your baby hasn’t eaten enough, wait awhile before offering him any more food.
It is tempting to say things like, ‘when you finish eating, I’ll get you a toy’ or ‘you can leave the table only when you have finished eating’. Bribing your child in this way can make your child have a negative relationship with food. He will start to expect rewards for eating and may look at eating as a chore. Instead, use hugs and praises as rewards.
Like adults, babies do not like being forced to do something. This includes food. Instead of deciding what your baby must eat for every meal, let him choose. Give him an option of 2-3 healthy food for children and let him pick from that. This will indicate your child’s preferences and make him happier at meal times.
Every time you introduce something different to your baby, he will take a while to accept it. To help develop good eating habits for kids, it is important for parents to understand that some set of food may be accepted fast while others may take some time. Many babies can take up to 15 tries before they accept the taste and texture of a new solid food.
Children in this age group have very high nutritional needs. As their bodies grow and develop, they need a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins and fats. Since they have small stomach and cannot eat too much during every meal time, it is a good idea to give them iron-fortified cereals. It helps in enhancing the nutritional aspect of their food and aids in healthy growth and development.
To teach healthy eating habits for kids, it is important for them to associate meals with happiness. Make meal times a happy experience by mixing play with their feed. This will help your baby grow into a happy, confident child.