Food for Thought

September 17, 2019
Father and son making food together

Instilling healthy eating habits in your kids.

From that very first spoonful of food, keeping your little ones nourished and thriving involves daily decisions (and occasional battles) about what to eat and what not to eat. To help guide you through the early years, here are tips based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

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First Foods

When your baby is ready to eat solid food, introduce one new food at a time for three to five days, and offer just a spoonful or two of it so your baby can get used to it and you can make sure there are no allergies. Offer a variety of flavors, textures and colors, and be patient. It can take up to 10-15 tries for a new food to click!

Snack Time!

During those early years, consider nutritious options like yogurt, slices of ripe banana or chopped avocado. Limit snacking to two to three times a day so your child is still hungry for meals. As your child grows, let him or her become more involved in choosing healthy snacks.

Picky Eaters

Always offer one of the foods your child will eat, and keep trying to introduce new things. Consider using cookie cutters, or serving foods in fun ways (e.g., smiley faces, animal shapes). Resist using bribes like “dessert later,” which can make unhealthier choices more alluring.

Healthy Hydration

Sports and energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and adolescents, but in most cases, kids don’t need them — and some of these products contain substances that could be harmful to children, the AAP says. While keeping hydrated is important, water is usually best.

Cooking Together

Activities like pouring, measuring and stirring can be fun — and educational! By helping with meal prep in a safe and supervised way, kids can build their confidence, learn concepts like math, explore new cultures, and feel more involved in mealtime.

Stop when Full!

Teach your kids to stop eating when they’re full, not when their plate is empty. This can help promote healthy habits that last a lifetime.

A Menu for Success

  • Try to eat a daily meal together as a family — even if it’s breakfast!
  • Eat a variety of foods, and if you haven’t done so, try a vegetarian recipe.
  • Turn off the TV and smartphones during mealtime to avoid “unconscious eating.”