Every parent wants their child to learn how to eat healthy foods. And the rule of thumb here is that parents choose what foods the child would eat, and the child would choose how much she eats. This is because each of us has internal signals from birth that tell us how much food we need. By forcing our kids to eat, we undermine their natural self-regulation and set them up for later food problems, such as pickiness and weight management.
We all want our kids to eat to become healthy, strong adults. As long as we understand them, we must believe they are more familiar with their bodies than we are.
Toddlers don’t require a lot. Many have days when they eat a lot and days when they eat very little, but kids don’t starve themselves. You’re setting up power struggles if you obsess over how much she eats or argue with her about food. An argument over someone’s body cannot be won. You wouldn’t want to, either.
It’s essential to establish early on that your child is in charge of how much food she consumes for her to be able to control her eating for the rest of her life. All you have to do is check to see if what she is offering is healthy.
Here are some goals you may want to consider in teaching your child to develop healthy eating habits:
- Allowing your child to sample a variety of foods will help them develop their taste buds.
- To prevent your child from cravings for salt and sugar, ensure the foods they eat are healthy.
- Give your child control over what she decides to eat to reduce power struggles and the possibility of eating disorders in the future.
How about a lovely dinner with your family, complete with interaction and connection? Although it’s a beautiful objective, your toddler isn’t quite there yet in terms of development. A toddler cannot sit and eat for as long as an adult. Lay the groundwork by making meals enjoyable and stress-free for the time being.
How should you do it?
- Avoid keeping sweets in the house and introducing them for as long as possible.
- At every meal, provide a variety of healthy foods.
- Maintain regular meal and snack times.
- Avoid coercing or rewarding your toddler for eating more than she wants to.
- Avoid following your young child around while feeding her.
- Allow your child to eat on his own. Although messy, it’s worth it. Splat a mat down.
Should you give snacks to your child?
Toddlers need several small meals throughout the day because of their small stomachs. That always refers to snacks and never to bad food. Simple smaller portions of food that you would be happy to see them eat at a meal are the best toddler snacks. Examples include healthy crackers with cheese or peanut butter, cut-up fruit, soup, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, and steamed broccoli.
Many toddlers are too preoccupied during the day to eat enough, so they request food before bed. Unless you incorporate a bedtime snack into the schedule, which frequently helps kids calm down and sleep better, this can drive a parent crazy. If you’re pressed for time, you can combine it with the bedtime story, but toddlers should always have bedtime snacks.
Is your child a picky eater?
Toddlers frequently go through a picky stage. Toddlers are genetically “programmed” to only eat foods they are familiar with for an evolutionary reason: unfamiliar foods may be poisonous. We most likely descended from a long line of picky toddler eaters because those toddlers who were adventurous eaters likely didn’t live long enough to pass on their genes to us!
Don’t prepare a special dinner fare for your toddler because you’ll resent it, giving her the wrong impression. Serve a variety of wholesome foods and let people choose which to try. Put some easy extras on the table, like cheese slices, a hard-boiled egg, or vegetables with hummus for dipping if your dinner isn’t toddler-friendly — if, heaven forbid, all the food is touching in a casserole, for example.
Don’t worry that your child won’t eat anything. That is uncommon as long as they have access to a wide variety of healthy foods and avoid developing a junk food addiction.
Discuss healthy food options, but emphasize flavor over all else. Your child is much more likely to want to try a food if you pronounce it “Delicious!” and mean it than if you pronounce it “This is so good for you!”
As children age, their taste buds adapt to enjoy a broader range of flavors, including bitter ones. Eventually, almost all children learn to like the foods their parents do.