Infants are fascinating little beings that have the capacity to learn everything you teach them and wow you with their simple tricks; until such time they begin to manipulate and seem to make their own choices. That is why good eating habits should be initiated as early as infancy.
Having good eating habits, ensures that they will learn to appreciate the healthy food choices and be at less risk to developing obesity. US researchers have conducted a study that concluded this concept.
A separate study was done for a period of one year involving first time moms, the results showed that infants who were introduced to healthy solid foods were more likely to appreciating and actually eating them.
They were visited regularly at home and taught about the different methods of introducing solid foods to infants beginning six months onwards. They were given the following guidelines in doing this:
- Different healthy food choices and preparations.
- Timing and method are important, solid foods should be given at a time that the kids are hungry and different approaches should be used.
- It is equally important to know when they are full and not to over feed them.
- Repeated exposure to the same kind of vegetables and fruits using variety of preparations is important to instill acceptance of the taste.
Infants of these mothers showed signs of acceptance of fruits and vegetables and even new types of foods.
Lead researcher Jennifer Savage, of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State University stated that this study is a clear evidence of ways to promote eating healthy habits.
This lesson is not to be done during infancy alone but, should be followed through until they become toddlers. Dealing with toddlers can be more challenging though because at this time they tend to become picky eaters. Here are a few techniques to turn your challenges into opportunities:
- Even if they are picky continue to serve small portions of fruits and vegetables in their plate. Different colors appear enticing and inviting.
- Encourage them to try different colors of the food served without forcing or nagging them.
- Set a good example and let them see how you’re enjoying your own food.
- Do not use bargaining spinach for a cookie as this will not instill good eating behaviors instead will give them the idea that prized foods are better options.
- Do not threaten or turn mealtimes into negotiating sessions.
- Since cookies and candies are not essential to a toddler’s diet, avoid serving them.
- Serve small portions only so as not to overwhelm them with the amount they have to finish up.
- Always have family meals together so the toddler can see while everyone else eats the same food.
- Let them enjoy some sense of independence by letting them finger feeding until such time they are ready to use utensils.
- Never force food a toddler.
- Be sensitive to cues that the toddler is full like when they start building a tower of crackers.
- Have a certain time for each meal to teach them a structured mealtime schedule.
- Remove junk from the table.
Early feeding and behavior modification is very important in teaching healthy eating habits, more so is modeling. So you can only expect your child to learn this if they see it from you.