Dr Sophie Niedermaier-Patramani, co-founder of Little Tummy, talks us through some top tips for instilling healthy eating habits in your little ones.
The next time your little one refuses the veggies you so lovingly prepared, don’t despair – it is just a matter of habit. All the routines you and your little one develop in the first year of life are potential habits your baby might stick to throughout their life. A baby’s eating habits often last a lifetime and this is a great reason to get your little one used to healthy food choices early on Here are a few tips for establishing healthy eating habits for your baby (and maybe for yourself as well).
Start Healthy Eating Habits Early
Offering a variety of vegetables and (to a smaller amount) fruit will get your child used to taste and texture. Studies have shown that babies whose first foods are bitter tasting vegetables, are more likely to accept these flavours during toddlerhood. Listen to your baby’s cues of hunger and satiety which will help them keep their inborn sense of when and how much they want to eat.
Embrace the Veggie Face
Babies’ faces show an inborn reaction to bitter tastes. They crunch their faces as if they just bit into a slice of lemon. Researchers have found out that this facial reaction goes away when babies try the same taste repeatedly. A funny face at first try, therefore, doesn’t necessarily mean your little one doesn’t like the food. It will be great to observe how this reflex vanishes over time.
Be Persistent With Sticking to Healthy Eating Habits
Don’t give up when your baby doesn’t accept a new taste the first time. It can take between 10 to 15 tries until your little one comes to like a new food, especially if it is a bitter tasting one such as kale, broccoli or spinach. If your baby didn’t want to try a food the first time, try again after a few days. You will love the feeling when they finally start devouring it after a few tries!
Taste Things Together
Babies and toddlers learn new things by imitating others, and it’s the same when it comes to healthy eating habits. Their biggest role models are their parents! If they watch you enjoy healthy food choices, they will want to try them as well. The best way to show your children how much you enjoy the food yourself is during regular family meals. Having a baby brings a tremendous amount of change to your lives. In fact, it has been shown that mothers often change their eating habits to the better during pregnancy.
Watch Your Drinks
When your toddler is thirsty, offer water or unsweetened drinks. Fruit juices are high in fruit sugar and low in nutritional value. Any drinks high in sugar can damage your little one’s teeth.
Snacks can be Healthy and Yummy
Snacks should be small meals to satisfy your baby’s appetite. Make sure the portion size is adequate so your little one is hungry again for the main meal. Try healthy snack options, such as steamed broccoli florets, cheese sticks or whole fat plain yogurt. Healthy dips such as homemade hummus or almond butter can be great fun for older toddlers and children, too, as they can dip food or their fingers into them.
Babies, who get used to these healthy eating habits from early on, will very likely stick to them during adulthood. This helps them to keep a healthy weight and lifestyle. Life can get messy and just as much as we enjoy some chocolate or cake once in a while, so will your little one. It is perfectly normal and ok to break the rules from time to time. Just think that every small effort will have a big impact on your little one, so keep trying and don’t be too tough on yourself.
- How to Cope if Your Child is a Fussy Eater
- The Benefits of Cold-Pressed Baby Food
- Dealing With Separation Anxiety in Babies