This post is brought to you by Victoria Berman.
It’s no surprise that as a parent, you might need some help understanding what it actually means to eat more healthy. Well, the good news is you don’t really need a Ph.D. in nutrition to raise healthy children. Following some key guidelines will help you encourage your child to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight.
A Parent’s Guide to Healthy Baby Food
One of the most important things you can do for your child is to get them the best healthy baby foods available. However, choosing what to feed your child can often be anxiety-provoking, especially if you’re new to parenthood.
In the age where parents worry about synthetic pesticides, GMOs and so on, making the right choice is never too easy, which brings us here today with this comprehensive list of guidelines every parent should follow in order to raise healthy kids.
Remember, ensuring healthy foods are on the menu is the best way you can help your kids be healthy adults.
#1. Don’t forget that It’s You Who Controls the Supply Line
As a parent, you choose which foods to get and when and how to serve them.
Although your child will pester you for less nutritious items, you should be the one to decide what to feed them on a regular basis.
Kids will not go hungry. They will eat whatever’s available in the fridge. You can use that opportunity to introduce your baby to healthier options. If your child’s favorite snacks aren’t very nutritious, you could still buy them once or twice a week so they never feel deprived.
#2. Leave Some Room for Freedom
From the goods you offer, children get to decide what to eat and whether they like it or not.
Kids should have a say in this matter, too. Consider scheduling regular meal vs. snack times, meaning from the variety of selections you provide, let your child decide what they want to eat. While this may sound like excessive freedom, if you follow through this tactic, your child will be picking only from what you offer.
#3. No More Clean-Plate BS
Let your child stop eating whenever they feel like they have had enough.
Many of us grew up following the “clean-plate” rule but little did we know, that sort of approach does not help children understand when it is time to stop.
When a child notices and responds to the feeling of fullness, they are less likely to overeat.
#4. Rewrite the Menu
Kids don’t just prefer pizza, burgers, hot dogs, cheese, and macaroni.
When they are in the mood, let your child try new stuff. Who knows? They might shock you with the willingness to eat healthy foods. You can always start by allowing them to try something you made like pea purée, avocado purée, or veggies and sole purée.
#5. Start From Young
Because food preferences develop early in your kid’s life, consider offering variety.
Human beings start forming a liking or disliking to something from their very infancy. You may want to serve something new several different times for your baby to accept it. Try not to force them to eat. Consider offering a few bites instead. As for older kids, have them try at least one bite.
#6. Drink Calories Matter
Soda and other forms of sweetened drinks incorporate extra calories, thereby hindering good nutrition.
Milk and water are the most appropriate drinks for your child. Juices are fine when they are 100%, but most kids don’t require much of that: 4-6 ounces/day is more than enough for preschoolers.
#7. Food Isn’t Love
Look for better alternatives to express your love for your baby. When you use food to reward your child and/or show affection, they’ll end up using foods to cope with pain and other emotions. Offer attention, hugs, and praise rather than food treats.
#8. Occasional Sweets
Occasional sweets can be great, but turning dessert into the sole purpose of eating dinner is not healthy.
When cupcakes are the prize for having dinner, children naturally place a significant amount of value on the dessert, rather than the broccoli. Therefore, stay neutral when it comes to foods.
#9. It’s Time to Become the Role Model
Children, in particular, watch everything their parents do carefully.
Thus, consider eating healthy yourself and becoming the role model your kid admires. When teaching healthy eating habits, the best thing you can do is to set the most appropriate example possible.
Here’s an idea to follow:
- Choose between nutritious snacks
- Always eat at the table
- Never skip a meal
#10. Less Screen Time
Limiting TV, smartphone, and computer time will help you avoid unnecessary snacking and inspire activity.
Research shows that preschoolers who watch more TV are fatter and are less active. When that time is limited, kids will find better and more active things to do. And limiting “screen time” means you’ll have more time to be active together.
Another study found that more parental monitoring led to less total screen time for children and reduced exposure to media violence—this, in turn, led to major benefits like improved sleep, reduced aggression, better school performance, lower BMI, improved social behavior, etc.
Babies are ready to start eating healthy between the age of 4 and 6 months. You will begin to notice signs like holding their heads up and improved gross motor control—this helps them in eating.
Although babies’ diet for the first 6-12 months should largely involve breast milk or formula alone, feel free to get adventurous with new foods as time goes on.
Keep in mind that the most crucial part of feeding your child solid, healthy foods is to make them enjoy and experience new flavors. If you can establish a relationship between fun and food early, you will watch your baby grow into new flavors as they step into toddlerhood.
Are you feeding your child healthy foods?
Don’t forget to share your thoughts and suggestions with us in the comments below.