Encouraging Lifelong Healthy Eating in Young Children
How do I get my toddler to eat a balanced diet? My child won't eat and fruit or vegetables - what should I do? I'm worried that my toddler's diet is causing him constipation problems - please help. These are all questions that many parents ask themselves. Indeed, they are often discussed here on our Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond Forum. So, how can we as parents encourage our children to have a healthy attitude towards mealtimes and subsequently get all the nutritional requirements that growing girls and boys need?
Here are some of the experiences and tips that have been shared on the forum about this to date. If you have any comments or advice on encouraging children to eat well then it would be great if you could add your views below.
- Make mealtimes a time for families and a time for fun. If possible, it is fantastic if families can eat together at least once a day. This takes the focus off what the kids are/ are not eating and helps everyone to have a relaxed and happy approach to mealtimes.
- Make up healthy snacks (such as carrot sticks with hummous, advocado slices, roast vegetable chunks, dried fruit etc) the night before. You will then be less likely to reach for a packet of biscuits or other sugary snack when your child says 'I'm hungry!'.
- Fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies are tasty, fun ways for kids to get more fruit and vegetables in their diet.
- Involve your children in planning some of your evening meals. This will help them to take ownership of their meals. Cooking together is also an excellent opportunity to talk to your kids about what makes up a healthy diet.
- Lead by example! Kids copy what they see. For example, if you drink squash or other sugary drinks rather than water than your children are more likely to start asking for this too.
- Toddlers can often be so full of energy that they find it hard to sit down for three long meals a day. You could try a 'graze tray' in the day where you fill a tray with healthy snacks for toddlers to come and go to through the day between all the puzzles, books and exploring there is to do.
- Make food fun: have teddy bear picnics, friends to tea, design interesting recipes together and read kid's cookery books with your little ones.
Wishing everyone many meals full of nutritious family fun!