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10 effective tips to help your child develop good eating habits

Establishing healthy eating habits in children is one of the most important responsibilities of parents. However, this is sadly neglected as most parents succumb to their children’s whims and tantrums and are unable to establish this.

Tips to develop good eating habits in children

Start early and stay consistent: Introduce a variety of foods to your child from an early age. Babies are more willing to try new tastes between 6 to 12 months. Be patient and continue to consistently offer a variety of foods, you can shape their palate early on.

Be a role model: Children mirror their parents. If they see you enjoying fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, they are more likely to try and like them too. Eat together as a family and make it a joyful experience.

Engage them in the process: Take your children grocery shopping and let them pick out a new vegetable or fruit to try. Encourage them to assist in the kitchen. When children feel connected to the process, they are more interested in the result.

Avoid getting junk food at home: While occasional treats are okay, avoid keeping junk food as a regular part of your pantry. If it’s not in the house, it won’t be a daily temptation. Keep fresh fruits, nuts, dried fruits at home as snacks.

Avoid using food as a reward or punishment: This can establish an emotional connection to food, which might lead to overeating or developing an unhealthy relationship with certain foods later in life

Regular meal and snack times: Establish set times for meals and snacks. This not only ensures that your child receives nutrition throughout the day but also helps them recognize the signs of hunger and fullness. Breakfast should be the main meal of the day. Eating regular meals and mid-day snacks ( fruits, nuts, vegetables ) ensures that your child will not remain hungry and gorge on snacks that are loaded with sugar and salt.

Make food fun: Presentation matters! Make use of colourful vegetables to make a rainbow plate or use cookie cutters to shape sandwiches. A visually appealing plate can be enticing for a child.

Encourage self-regulation: Teach children to listen to their bodies. Let them know it’s okay to stop eating when they are full and that they should eat when they are genuinely hungry, not just bored

Educate on the benefits: In age-appropriate ways, talk to your child about how different foods help them. For instance, “Carrots are good for your eyes,” or “Milk strengthens your bones.” This can make them more interested in what they eat.

Stay patient and persistent: Children’s taste buds are constantly evolving. They might reject a food today and love it a few months later. Offer a rejected food multiple times before deciding they genuinely dislike it. And remember, every child is unique; what works for one might not work for another.