According to a study on NCBI, introducing a variety of tastes and food textures to kids at the right time plays a crucial role in helping parents have an easier time encouraging them to try new foods.
Once your baby is ready for solid foods, you can start helping him develop healthy eating habits that he can continue to practice as he grows older. You will also enable your child to increase his nutritional intake – something that is important for his healthy growth and development.
Help Your Child Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Even at an early age, kids can learn to have good eating habits which they can carry well into adulthood. Use the below tips from leading nutrition advisors to help your child develop these.
1. Being a role model
Babies begin watching their parents’ faces and mimicking some of their gestures when they turn one month old. As such, your child will start imitating a lot of your actions while they are still very young.
When you show your child how much you love eating a variety of healthy foods, he will learn to follow your lead. Make sure you also have frequent talks with your child on the benefits they can gain when they eat healthy foods, especially during mealtimes. These strategies are highly effective in getting your little one to start trying a variety of foods, like fruits and veggies.
2. Making dinner and other mealtimes a time for family
Kids who eat meals with their families at home, or even out, usually have better quality diets and a higher intake of fruits and vegetables. When you serve a new dish, make sure everyone at the table gets a healthy portion and make a show of how they like it. Your child will find it hard not to follow the everyone’s example.
Also, allow your little one to make choices and decide how much he wants to eat since this will empower and give him confidence. By allowing your child to serve himself and seeing everyone enjoying the meal, he will know the importance of family meals and that trying new dishes is not something to be scared of – something that will help them avoid picking up the unhealthy habit of picky eating.
3. Giving your child a variety of options
If your little one is already eating solid foods, do not limit his diet to only soft, mashed food. With the pediatrician’s approval, nutrition advisors say you can also start offering your child foods with different textures – chunky, crunchy, and chewy ones.
Provide a variety of healthy food choices for your child and let him take the lead in what and how much he chooses to eat. However, make sure you don’t leave your child unattended when he is trying new foods and textures.
Regardless of your child’s age, keep in mind that you may have to place a particular food in front of your child multiple times before he develops a taste for it. The important thing is that you be consistent in offering this food and don’t force your child to try the dish.
If your little one tastes even just two or three spoonfuls, show your appreciation and praise him for trying the dish.
4. Making healthy foods fun and interesting
When you are introducing a type of fruit or vegetable for the first time to your child, be creative. Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes out of fresh veggies or fruits. You can also make a fresh fruit bar and give your little one a child-friendly skewer so that he can make his own fruit kabobs. Serve a variety of dips as well so that he can experiment with different tastes.
By following this tip, you will help your child be more open to tasting new and healthy foods. He will even learn to love them as long as you are consistent in serving foods in interesting and yummy ways.
5. Serving familiar foods in new ways
Lastly, let your child know that the same foods can be cooked and served different ways and they will still taste good. For instance, show your child the various ways you can cook an egg: sunny side up, scrambled, poached, soft or hard-boiled, etc.
If possible, allow your child to help you or, at the very least, watch you while you are cooking so that he gets to know about these different prep and cooking techniques. By mixing things up, you help your child develop a wider range of tastes and more adaptability to new foods and situations.
Good eating habits start from childhood. When you help your child learn healthy eating habits at an early age, he will have a higher chance of continuing those habits as he gets older and begins to make more eating decisions on his own.