It’s more important than ever before to show children how to eat healthily from day one as the obesity epidemic means today’s children may be the first generation to have a shorter expected lifespan than their parents. Children often mirror behavior, so parents need to lead by example, such as preparing and cooking homemade meals, eating fresh fruits and vegetables and having chocolates and takeaways as occasional treats only.
Trying New Foods
It’s normal for first time moms and dads to be unsure on when to introduce solid food to a baby and which ones to start with. Newborns solely need breast milk or formula until they are at least six months old and can continue for as long as you wish alongside solid foods. At around six months they can then start to try solid foods to get used to new tastes and textures, making it the perfect time to introduce soft fruits and vegetables. It can take up to 16 tries for a child to accept a new food, so don’t be disheartened if they decline healthy foods to begin with, perseverance is important. Research has shown that eating habits are formed between 12-24 months and young children will often mirror older children and their parents, so having healthy eating habits yourself will help them to follow your lead.
Toddlers And Young Children
An easy mistake to make for little ones is giving them portions that are too big for their age. It can also be tempting to give them smaller portions of what you’re having or what older children are eating, but toddlers are developing and growing rapidly so need more nutrients in their diet. Toddlers eat best when they’re in a routine and will respond well to praise, so tell them they’ve done well when they eat a healthy meal. Sweet treats, such as cookies and chocolates, should be given as treats only and with pieces of fruit. Table manners shouldn’t be a priority yet as they will come with age, so encourage children to play with their food. This way they’ll get used to the feel, texture and smell of new foods and will be more likely to try it.
Children And Teenagers
As children grow up they will have more choice and control over what they eat but will still depend on parents for what food is on offer for them and for cooked meals. Children can learn about the food pyramid, what a healthy plate consists of and get involved with cooking meals so that they grow up knowing how to prepare fresh, healthy meals for themselves, which is an invaluable tool. Hopefully your hard work will pay off and as your child ages they will continue to make healthy choices.
Eating a balanced diet is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy body weight, which will lead to better health, well being and a longer lifespan. Teach children good choices from early on so that healthy decisions are automatic for them, making it easy for them to lead a healthy lifestyle.