Most young children do not like surprises or new situations. Some, like my own daughter, need time to get used to new environments, activities and food. Having parents repeat something over and over gives the child a sense of security because they know what will happen next in the storyline, song or video. Routines offer the same sense of security to children.
With food and feeding children, some of these same principles apply. Below are some tips to keep in mind when establishing eating habits with your child.
Patience: Much like the book, song or video, children find comfort in eating the same food over and over. Keep this in mind when you are serving something new. When offering a new food or even a new way of serving a familiar food, give your child time to get used to it. Don’t expect him or her to eat it the first time. It may take repeated tries (as many as 15 times or so) for your child to try something different, or new.
Routines: Try to serve meals and snacks at the same time. That is, establish some sort of routine when it comes to meals. Offer or serve the vegetables or salad first, that way if your child is hungry before the actual meal is ready, they can start eating healthy items that are part of the meal and not fill up on snack foods, which often have low nutritional value. Offer milk with the meal for an excellent source of calcium.
Mimicry: Studies have shown that children mimic their parents. If parents aren’t eating fruits and vegetables, it is very likely the child will not want to either. If the parent is averse to trying new foods, the child will likely not be an adventurous eater, and so on. Research has shown that this mimicry extends to grocery shopping patterns as well. When children see parents purchasing healthy foods, they also adopt these patterns later on. Continue Reading »