Once your little bubba has been weaned off of milk and into the fun stages of experimenting with food, it is recommended to provide as much variety as possible to expand your young one’s palate. A number of studies have shown that first tastes as a youngster will dictate their taste preferences for years to come, so be mindful that there is variety in terms of colour, texture and flavour.
Toddler Healthy Eating Tips
Don’t Shy Away from Savoury
Children have an innate sense for preferring sweet tastes to bitter as this is a primal survival instinct, however this can be nurtured over time as children’s taste buds develop. Just think of the foods you like now which you didn’t when you were young – coffee is a classic example.
Wait & Repeat
The key to providing your child with options is to repeatedly introduce them. Should a food be refused one week, then try again a few days later and then again with it prepared in a different way.
Let Them Help
Allow your child to learn about food and where it comes from by involving them in the cooking process. From a young age my bubba was plonked in his Bumbo watching me prepare meals and I would show him the whole food and let him look, touch and explore.
Be a Good Role Model
Whilst a child will have their own individual preferences, most of their food preferences will be dictated by their family unit and what they are familiar with. Children look to their parents as role models and will eat what their parents serve them as well as want to eat what they do so there is no point telling a toddler they cannot eat chocolate if the parent is.
Many people are surprised that my son will ask for a green juice and ask how I get him to drink it … simple he has seen me preparing and drinking them all his life and now it’s fun for him to pick his fruit and add it to the blender.
Food Hell, Food Heaven
It’s important too that your own taste preferences do not influence your child’s. My husband hates olives yet our son loves them as I eat them. If you don’t like pumpkin and never buy it, how will you know if your child likes it or not? Make it a fun exploration to go to the supermarket and choose new foods together that you do not normally eat.
Don’t Pass On Bad Habits
Some people also have certain rules around food such as not combining certain foods or avoiding others as they don’t like them and it is essential these habits are not passed on. Growing up we were told we couldn’t leave the table until the plates are empty, yet this is now considered to be one of the subconscious causes of overeating later in life. If your child is full, they will tell you and you will generally know. Your kids are more intuitive and in touch with their bodies than you are, since adults can become desensitised to the feeling of real hunger.
Author CJ’s Fitbumps – CJ is a fitness and nutrition expert who specialises in helping expectant mums and new families. Are you pregnant and looking to find some ‘me’ time before baby arrives? If so, join her on Tuesday nights at St John’s Church Hall, Chelmsford, for a gentle stretch, relaxation and meditation session. To book your space or for more details contact CJ directly at [email protected]