Getting kids to eat healthy is one of mom’s biggest concerns. If you have a picky eater and feel frustrated don’t worry, you are not alone. Here are 5 great tips for raising a healthy happy eater.
My Favorite Tips For Raising Healthy Eaters
Your child’s eating habits won’t likely change overnight, but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.
Healthy eating habits start at home. Raising healthy non-picky eaters is a long process for those children who are used to eating only chicken nuggets and white pasta meals, but little by little, you and your family can improve and eat healthier. Set a goal: one improvement per week, and before you know it, your family will eating more variety and better food.
At home, we try to incorporate new healthy options all the time and have them try new flavors. Three important things I have in mind when I go to the grocery store: Real food, fresh ingredients, variety.
5 Tips For Raising A Happy Healthy Eater
Raising healthy non-picky eaters is not an easy task but it is possible! I have two kids and thankfully, they eat a great variety of foods. My 17 month old daughter eats EVERYTHING including all vegetables and fruits. Just remember every child is different and there are stages of picky eating as well. All you need is lots of patience and little tips to be able to raise a happy healthy eater.
1.- Prepare meals at home using fresh ingredients
Homemade food is best because it shapes kids palates to real food taste. If they become used to processed foods like jars, boxes, packages or canned food, that is what they will prefer in the future. They will also prefer sweet things because most processed foods are loaded with sugar.
Avoid commercial baby food. Make your own baby purees. Studies show homemade baby food is twice as nutritious as baby food jars plus there are no preservatives or fillers. Commercial baby food is cooked at very high temperatures for a long period of time, destroying most of the nutrients. This is the only way it can last for several months on your pantry. Please see Top 7 Reasons For Making Homemade Baby Food. You will see how easy is it to make your own baby food like my favorite Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce recipe.
Studies also show babies who eat homemade baby food are less likely to be picky eaters when they are ready for table foods. It makes sense: if baby is used to the taste of fresh food cooked at home, the transition will be easier.
Most babies are ready for table foods at around 9-12 months of age, even when they do not have any teeth (they use their gums to chew). I recommend reading Bringing Up Bébé for new moms.
One of the best tools for me when my son was a baby was the NUK Mash & Serve Bowl. Great for on the go and to mash fruits and vegetables at home. I used to mash avocados, sweet potatoes and bananas in seconds and just serve it in the bowl. The Munchkin Food Feeder is another great way for babies to start trying new flavors without mom having to worry about choking. Works great with strawberries, bananas, sweet potatoes, peaches, apples, etc. Both fresh and frozen foods (which are great for teething!). They are Inexpensive and great products for giving your baby homemade food.
2.- Start them early
Research shows that food preferences start even before birth from the mother’s food choices. A child’s palate is set at around three years old. The choices or food the child was offered during the first years will influence his/her preferences later on in life. This is why is it so important to give them healthy food options to teach healthy habits. This is the most important of the 5 Tips For Raising Healthy Non-Picky Eaters in my opinion.
When my son started eating solids and wanted to feed himself, an idea that worked so well for me was making ice pops. I blended fruits, veggies and added superfoods like chia seeds, ginger, and aloe vera. The Boon Pulp Silicone Feeder or the NUK Fill & Freeze Pops are great for making popsicles for little ones. For more ice pops ideas please see Great Snack Idea: Ice Pops.
3.- Think variety
The more variety, the less picky your child will be. When my son started eating solids, I tried to introduce a new flavor each week. I am still thinking of new ideas to introduce new flavors. Don’t get stuck on one flavor your baby likes. If baby doesn’t accept a new flavor, try again a few days later or try a different way to present it. It often takes time for a child to accept new flavors. Experts say on average, it takes about 15-20 times for a child to accept a new flavor.
You can try one of my favorite recipes for picky eaters: Broccoli Cauliflower Nuggets. They are so delicious and a way to “hide” the vegetables that those picky kids won’t even try. Another family favorite is my Pesto Sauce, a recipe that is ready in 5 minutes and has lots of nutrition.
4.- Family eats the same food
Set the example. If mom is eating broccoli then child is more willing to try it. You cannot expect your child to eat healthy if you make poor food choices. And if you are eating out, never order from the kid’s menu. Options for kids at most restaurants are very unhealthy.
Serve your family the same food. You can try to make healthy foods more fun by using molds and cutters! If your children don’t want to eat certain things try again and again. A great product for serving healthy meals is the Kids Nutrition Plate because it helps teach children about nutrition and it is a fun plate that kids will love.
There is a book I highly recommend that explains why French Kids Eat Everything. It is a great read and one of the most important rules French people have is that the entire family eats the same food. Eating meals together teaches children eating is a family affair and it encourages them to accept a wider variety of food over time.
5.- Don’t use food to punish or reward
This sends the wrong message and makes kids believe that dessert is the best food, which might only increase your child’s desire for sweets. Limit the amount of desserts to once or twice a week and offer healthier alternatives like fruits or yogurt. The same goes for punishing a child for not eating: “eat your carrots or you won’t go to the park”. This also sends the wrong idea and the child will associate healthy foods with punishment. This actually will create a negative environment at mealtime and the child less likely to try new foods in the future.
I hope you enjoyed reading My 5 Tips For Raising A Happy Healthy Eater. If you are interested in reading more about my blog, please take a look at my latest articles. I am a mom blogger who loves to share creative and healthy fun-food-ideas, family activities, natural remedies, parenting advice,and tips for living a healthy lifestyle.
I believe kids deserve to eat real food. If you are interested, please check out my ideas for easy to make, healthy, and homemade family meals. You can find the food from the video in my recipes. I am not a chef or have many years of experience cooking, so most of my recipes are very easy to prepare.
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