Research shows that young children’s healthy eating habits can forward to healthy eating patterns when they become adults. Focus on Healthy Eating Habits For Children is an excellent way to promote good lifelong dietary habits and healthy lifestyle.
As parents, we have the most influence on our child. We can do a lot to help children develop healthy eating habits for life. Preschoolers’ normal growth and development also play an important role in their eating habits. As they grow, they develop physically and mentally. Their eating styles change as well like everything they do during these growing stages.
Starting early, starting NOW! Here are some tips for parents to help young child to develop a healthy eating habit.
Be a Role Model
Because kids pick up all of parents’ attitude and behaviors including parents’ eating habits, setting a good example is a must. Especially for preschoolers, they love to copy what their parents do. They are likely to mimic parents’ table manners, parents’ likes and dislikes.
When go shopping, take your child with you. Show your child how to make healthy choices. Choose vegetables, apples, oranges, bananas, or other fruits. Cook together with your child whenever you can. Encourage your preschooler to help you prepare meals and snacks. Eat meals with your child whenever possible. Let your child see you enjoying vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Keep positive attitude and be willing to try new food with your young child together.
Offer a Variety of Food
Offering a variety of food helps preschoolers get the nutrition they need from different food groups, and give them opportunities to try new foods and to like more foods.
Try something new with your family occasionally. Let your preschooler choose a new vegetable to add to dinner menu. Vary the types of cereals, bread, fish, meat, and salads week to week. Adding fruit to your preschooler’s breakfast by using it to top cereal is also a good idea. Put ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator where your child can see and reach them.
Start with Small Portion
Offer your preschooler small, easy-to-eat amount of food to make eating easy and more enjoyable. Use small bowls, plates, and utensils for your young child to eat with. Teach them to take small amount first, and then they can get more if they are still hungry. Do not insist that young children finish all the food on their plate, let them know it is okay to only eat as much as they feel full at meal time.
Let young children serve themselves when they are capable to do it.
Set and Follow a Meal and Snack Schedule
Regularly scheduled meal and snack times help your preschooler learn structure for eating, and help them learn discipline.
It is recommended that to plan for 3 meals and 2 snacks each day for preschoolers, because they often do not eat enough at a meal to stay full until the next mealtime. In order to let them eat healthy meals and try new foods, do not offer snacks too close to mealtime, and do not offer “extras” such as candy or cookies when they do not eat meal.
Although meal and snack schedules are helpful, it is also important to listen to your child. For example, if your child says he or she is hungry, offer a small, healthy snack. It’s important to let children to understand when they are hungry or full.
Make Mealtime an Enjoyable Family Time
Preschoolers like lovely family time. Family meals allow them to focus on eating and give parents a chance to model good behaviors.
Have your child help you prepare meals, for example, set the table, and turn off TV etc. depending on your child’s age. Start eating meals together as a family as early as possible, which helps young child to build a good habit.
Focus on the meal and each other, talking about fun and happy things. Try to make meals a stress-free time. Start a conversation with your child. For example, ask questions, what did you have to eat at lunch today? What did you learn today? What made you feel really happy today?
Encourage your child to try food, but do not force him or her to eat.
Cope with Picky Eaters
Picky eating is temporary; parents do not need to worry too much. There are many things you can do to deal with picky eating in a positive way. One way is to make food fun. Cut a food into fun and easy shapes with cookie cutters. Name a food your child helps create.
Encourage your child to invent and help prepare new snacks or dishes. Remember patience works better than pressure. Offer your children a variety of foods. Then let them choose how much to eat.
As long as your preschooler is healthy and growing normally, he or she is most likely getting needed nutrients. If you are concerned that your child’s picky eating has lasted for a long time, we suggest you to speak with your child’s doctor.
Many things influence Healthy Eating Habits For Children. What and how much your preschooler eats make difference as well. Parents should learn early childhood nutrition and observe your young child closely. Go shopping together with your preschoolers, cook, eat together, and talk together with them. Make mealtime a fun family time and be patience! All these contribute to your young child’s healthy eating habits.
To learn more parenting skills, please refer to great parenting books.