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Can you really influence your child’s attitude to food from the start?

Copyright RexThe answer is yes!

Everyone has different eating habits, but as a parent you have to be extremely careful about what messages you are passing onto your children. Children love to imitate their parents, whether it’s through speech or a certain laugh or joke, or the food they put in their mouth.

Ask yourself, do you eat unhealthily? Perhaps it’s normal in your household to eat in front of the TV, or to snack all day long. But is this how you want your children to eat? Set a good example to your little ones from an early age, as that way they’ll more likely follow your orders when it comes to meal times.

This not only goes with the food on your plate, but also the time at which you eat, where you eat and how much food you eat. Remember, you can’t tell your child off for not eating her vegetables if she can see that you aren’t eating them either.

It’s important you provide your little one a variety of healthy foods as this will help her to develop great eating habits for life, as well as positively impacting your health as well. Good nutrition can do a number of things for your baby, from keeping up their energy, to giving them strong bones and muscles, to an easier recovery from illness or injury.

When your little one reaches toddler-age, step back from the feeding process a little. As a baby, you controlled everything about what she ate, but now share the choice with your toddler. Encourage her to try different foods and praise her when she does. Sit down and eat together as a family, so your child has a chance to watch the choices you all make at dinner (including whether you reach for the fizzy drinks or salt).

Why not take your child food shopping with you, as this will allow her to watch you make healthy food choices, while ignoring all the junk food on offer.

It’s also a good idea to get her involved in the cooking process, joining you in the kitchen while you are preparing dinner. With the addition of a cute little apron and chef’s hat, anything she helps to make will be much more exciting to eat when it gets to the table!

Be aware of rewarding children for healthy eating, because this can sometimes defeat the purpose. Especially if the reward is a treat such as sweets or chocolate as your child’s desire for the treat will take over their want to eat healthy foods.

You will see better results from your child by providing them with a wide variety of different foods from an early age, and then reintroducing those foods later on that were not well received first time around. It’s said that you should try reintroducing less appealing foods five to ten times, before setting it aside as something your child doesn’t like.

Also, be creative with the way you layout the food on your child’s plate – cut her sandwiches into shapes or rearrange her food into a smiley face. This way, your little one will be excited and will enjoy food times, rather than see it as a chore.

During a meal, don’t tell your child off for not eating all the food on her plate as this will only instil her with bad memories about food. Instead, speak positively with statements or questions such as “that broccoli looks yummy, can mummy have it?” This will ultimately encourage your child to follow in your footsteps and do the same. Allow your child to self-regulate by encouraging her to tell you when she is full or doesn’t like something.

At the end of the day, it can be a tough battle getting your toddler to eat enough of the right kind of foods, but by staying calm and positive, happy feeding times will become second nature in no time.

Newborn Feeding Tales

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