Food is one the most important thing in any child’s life. Healthy eating habits are formed right from infancy and carries forward in other stages of a child’s life. You as a parent can influence the eating habits of the child. To begin with lets see common myths that are linked with eating habits.
Certain myths that are linked with healthy eating habits
- A fat or a chubby child is equal to healthy child
- Giving ghee and other fatty items makes the child healthy
- Giving dry fruits in abundance can make the child extremely healthy
- Food items like curds and banana can cause cough cold to the child
- It is mandatory that Breast milk should be continued till the age of two
Facts that are related to healthy Eating habits
- An active child and a fit child is equal to healthy child
- Every child has different taste and liking towards food
- A healthy child doesn’t need any supplements for weight gain
- A child can eat same stuff that is prepared for the rest of the family
- An infant of around 8 months old also can eat food like chapatti with the help of gums
Eating and five senses
First and foremost eating is one of the activities in which we use all the five senses. We see the colorful food, touch the texture of different food items, enjoy the aroma of the food, listen to noise while chewing the food and finally get different taste of variety of food that we eat.
All our five senses get activated while eating. And we all eat at least twice in a day. Hence eating is an excellent way to stimulate our senses.
Eating and screen time
There are so many instances where in I see people using cell phone to feed babies who are as small as 7 to 8 months. Cell phone is not at all a mandate to feed young infants and toddlers. In fact once a child develops this habit of combining screen time with food then it becomes difficult for the child to break the habit.
How to inculcate interest in food without screen
Keep some finger food ready so that the child is motivated to eat on his own. One can sing rhymes while feeding. Narrating stories while feeding is an excellent way. As the child grows older keep talking to the child of what he is eating and other topics. Meal time can be an excellent time to communicate with your child. If your child is playful and wants something to fidget while eating then you can allow different items that are on plate. Let the child feel the texture. Second is giving a spoon but the best is to keep finger foods handy.
Example- Boiled beet, carrot, green peas, potatoes etc. In later stages the child can be given pieces of chapatti or other food items. For older children read the subtitle on meal time is a good bonding time
Tips for balanced diet
Make sure that your child eats one portion of different varieties during the day example- cereals, vegetables, milk or milk products and fruits in a day. Always encourage your child to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. After 15 months you can start giving dry fruits in some amount. If a child grows up and wants junk food don’t get anxious. May be you can offer junk or his favorite food item on your own so that your child doesn’t get too excited on seeing them. Try to give sugars and preservative food in fewer amounts till 2 years of age. Later on also give in moderate amount. The taste buds of a child changes with age hence it might happen that if your child who used to love a particular food item might suddenly refuse to eat it or vice versa.
It’s always good to offer a child what is cooked for the entire family. Only in few instances if your child is extremely fussy eater only then you can think of alternative but don’t make it a habit. You need to keep a track of the food items that suits your child and which doesn’t suit him.
Meal time is a good bonding time.
A family who eats together stays together. I know in this fast pace of life it’s not easy for a family to sit and have meal together. However you can try to have at least one meal together if not all.
You must not bring up any serious discussions during meal time. A meal time should be a fun time where in no one watches TV. Also all members must stay away from cell phone. Try to bring in nice discussions on table or just some light jokes. Post meal all the members can distribute the chores also like winding up of vessels, washing them, cleaning the place where you had meal. All this is possible if you consider eating as an activity which has lot of joy.
Parents are the role model for the child
If you as parent will check your whatsapp Messages or your instagram handle while eating then expect your child to do something on similar lines. Being a parent if you are somebody who eats lot of junk food then please do not force your child to eat healthy food. Children imitate what parents do hence it is important that family members also eat healthy and encourage healthy food habits. The ground rule is that whatever discipline you want to bring inculcate within your child first you need to follow it so that you can be a role model for your child.
Respect your child while eating
I would like to say that respect your child and his appetite. Every child knows how much is their intake during meal time hence please don’t forcefully feed your child. Also when you go out in restaurant then allow the child to select what he would like to eat as this would increase his confidence level.
If your child tells you that he is bored of a particular item then please think about it rather than pouncing on your child.
Eating habits are learned behaviors; they’re not intuitive. So what your children learn to eat at home early in life sticks with them well into adulthood.” Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes
How do you inculcate healthy eating habits in your child? Kindly write in our comment section.