Thursday, November 5, 2009

Healthy eating for Kids

Every Mum knows what a struggle it can be to keep a balanced diet in place for the family, especially for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers when fussiness really sets in. On the other hand it is vital to set up good eating habits that will serve our children well throughout their lives. So I have put together here ten handy hints that I try to use to help keep a healthy balanced eating plan in place.

1. Small children have small stomachs. I have found that when at home it is very easy to leave a plate of cut up fruit, sultanas etc within reach of your children whether on the bench or in the fridge. This gives your child the encouragement to eat when hungry without any forcing. I personally find my sons love it when I do this - they like making their own choices about when to eat something and without it being an issue they tend to eat more anyway. Please note with this, I don’t include crackers or biscuits etc, it is only fruit or vegetables.

2. Eat dinner as a family. Life gets considerably easier when your children eat what you do – make the most of it and always try to serve your meals so the whole family eats together. This encourages your children to eat what you do – try and remember that you kids will do as you do, not do as you say!! Even if you think they won’t touch that salad or vegetable, always put some on their plate – you never know what will go down!

3. Make meals with lots of hidden vegetables. Stews, soups and pasta sauces are great to hide lots of vegies in – think puree’s, grated etc. In a big stew or casserole you can easily include as many as 10 different vegetables. Doing this also makes the meat portion of the meal stretch further.

4. Remember that what you don’t introduce into your family’s diet won’t be missed. For example, if you only ever serve brown bread its much easier to keep that habit rather than trying to switch from white to brown when your kids are old enough to know the difference.

5. Don’t use food as a bribe. Instead of saying “If you pick all your toys up you can have some chocolate” wait until they have tidied up then say “Thank you, for doing such a great job picking your toys up you can have a fruit jelly”.

6. Don’t “forbid” certain foods in your household like chips or lollies. Everything in moderation is usually the best approach, if you ban certain foods it makes it all the more appealing to children to want that food even more. This mostly applies to school aged children but it helps to have a balanced view of food from the outset.

7. When you offer a snack or meal to your child, be sure to be clear that is all that on offer and nothing else will be available until the next meal time. This is the best way to end up with a fussy eater, by being concerned your child has not had enough to eat and offering something “yummier”. They very soon figure this one out and will have you dancing to their tune in no time at all! No child ever starves of his or her own accord.

8. Stick to fruit for dessert. For toppings think yogurt or a dab of custard. You could even sprinkle some hundreds and thousands over the top for a bit of excitement!

9. In summer you can make your own ice-blocks. Simply blend up tinned or fresh fruit with yogurt for a yummy creamy treat. You can even buy special plastic re-usable ice-block kits to freeze your ice-blocks in.

10. Don’t turn mealtimes into an emotional battleground. If your child manages to get such an interesting response from you for not eating they will know that it is a fantastic way to get some attention from you. Just offer the food, and if it is not eaten at the end of the meal remove the dish without any threats or trying to force feed.  If they end up going to bed on an empty tummy don't stress, they are probably just not hungry.

I hope these hints give you some new ideas on feeding your toddler or pre-schooler, and feel free to leave a comment if you would like to pass on any of your great tried and tested hints!

Monique Nickalls JP BSc (hons) Dip Prof Couns
Your Cheeky Monkey
Baby | Infant | Mum


The Handmade Expo and Handmade Heaven said...

Amazing. Thanks heaps Monique....

alex said...

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