Raising your baby to love food in all its forms
When raising a child, nurturing a positive relationship with food is understandably one of your priorities. When your child grows up and begins to make their own eating decisions, you want to know that they’ve developed healthy habits and an appreciation for different types of food.
Not only is nurturing this positive relationship with food going to help your child enjoy a healthier lifestyle, but it will enhance their ability to engage socially with others as they’ll be more willing to give new things a chance. There aren’t really any advantages to fussy eating, so it’s a good idea to open your child up to as many food experiences as possible while they are still developing their tastes.
The following will examine some tips for taking advantage of those early taste buds and raising your baby to love and appreciate as many types of food as possible.
1. AVOID TEACHING THEM YOUR OWN HABITS
As an adult, you no doubt have your own well-developed tastes and know what you like and don’t like. While you may be able to have a healthy relationship with food, despite being dainty in some areas, it won’t help your child if they adopt those traits and become a picky eater themselves.
For example, if you really don’t like cauliflower in your own food then you might end up never serving it to your child, thereby denying them the opportunity to try it for themselves. While not always the case, this could inadvertently cause your child to never give certain foods a chance.
2. OFFER THEM AS MANY EXPERIENCES AS POSSIBLE EARLY ON
It’s well understood that around the 2-year mark, children begin to show signs of food fussiness and may even refuse meals you’ve seen them eat happily in the past. While this stage is perfectly normal and expected for your child, the more food you expose them to prior to this, the less fussy they will be overall.
Try exposing them to as much as possible by exploring new cuisines and recipes, either by searching the internet or buying a cookbook. As a bonus, you’ll probably discover plenty of new dishes for you to enjoy as well.
3. CHANGE THE BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER PARADIGM
Some of the negative food habits we have come from the separation of foods into times of the day they are most appropriate to eat. For example, you might never have typically thought of carrots as something you’d include for breakfast, but is there really a good reason not to include carrots in your child’s breakfast routine?
Don’t forget about dessert either! Having a sweet reward at the end of a big meal might have been a perfectly normal habit when you grew up, but is it really a modern eating habit that your child should adopt?
Don’t worry, there’s still a time and place for chocolate chip cookies, muffins, and other sweets in a child’s life – just in greater moderation.
4. WORRY ABOUT TABLE MANNERS WHEN THEY'RE OLDER
While table manners and social eating etiquette are obviously important things to teach your child, how impactful are they when they’re still very young? At this stage of their life, it’s much better to let your child enjoy the full sensory experience of their food instead of periodically interrupting meal time to reinforce manners or clean up a spill.
5. NORMALISE FRUITS AS A SNACK
This can be difficult if you personally don’t engage in a lot of healthy snacking, so you need to start doing it yourself and set an example. If your child sees you opening a candy bar after lunch, you can’t blame them for thinking that it is a good and acceptable behaviour for them to emulate.
Keep a mix of fresh fruit easy to access (such as in a bowl on the kitchen table) and take from it often in front of your child. When mummy or daddy are casually grabbing apples and bananas every day, children will naturally follow suit.