- Introduce a variety of foods. Start nurturing your good eater as soon as you introduce solid food. Find a good book that gives you ideas of what to try when. Rotate through the different foods remembering to include ones that you don't personally like. If your baby doesn't like a particular food in the beginning keep exposing her to it. Sometimes it takes a few tries. Remember that homemade baby food is more economical than jarred and it tastes better too.
- Feed them what you eat. Make the same meal for everybody. Once you're sure that your baby tolerates a variety of foods, puree the regular meal that you make for your family. Sometimes certain foods are labeled kid food or grownup food. The grownups can eat mac and cheese occasionally and the kids can eat what the rest of the family is eating most of the time.
|Pasta with Mixed Peppers|
- Eat dinner together. Sometimes it doesn't work out for the whole family to eat together, but make sure that one adult is there, sitting at the table with your children. Books, magazines, and electronic devices should be put away and the television turned off. This is maybe the only time you have all day to check in and connect. Web MD cites these ten benefits to eating dinner together. See the whole article here.
- Everyone eats healthier meals.
- Kids are less likely to become overweight or obese.
- Kids more likely to stay away from cigarettes.
- They're less likely to drink alcohol.
- They won't likely try marijuana.
- They're less likely to use illicit drugs.
- Friends won't likely abuse prescription drugs.
- School grades will be better.
- You and your kids will talk more.
- You'll be more likely to hear about a serious problem.
- Kids will feel like you're proud of them.
- There will be less stress and tension at home.
|Dinner with the family, even when she was little.|
- Let the kids help cook. They are more likely to eat food they've helped prepare. Let them stand on a step stool and let them help spread and mix. Give them more jobs as they get bigger and more capable.
|Making party favors for her 2nd birthday.|
|Helping me with a cheese/fruit platter.|
- Let them experiment. If the kids get used to helping you in the kitchen they're going to want to try out some ideas of their own. Be their sous chef if they still need supervision. Cultivate the joy of creating in the kitchen.
|Wheat crackers, string cheese, and halved cherry tomatoes = Airplane|
- Take them out to eat. Your kids won't know how to behave in a restaurant if you never take them along. Make sure they're well rested when you go and let them know they're expected to sit in their seats and use inside voices. They aren't going to do that all by themselves. Take things to entertain them. Trains, cars, books, paper and markers, and small stuffed animals are all fun diversions. You could even keep a small bag of things that only comes out at restaurants. If you're stuck without anything to do, use your imagination. You can take turns folding a napkin, play I Spy, or see what might be interesting in your purse. At quieter restaurants plan to arrive right when they open so you can get in and out before the big crowds arrive.
|Eating Early at a Nice Hotel|
- Plan a menu. If you plan a menu you're more likely to come up with a variety of healthy ideas. You're less likely to get stuck in a rut. Choose new recipes from time to time to introduce your family to new ingredients. Often kids say they don't like foods when they haven't been exposed to them.
- Talk about making healthy choices. Talk about what foods are healthy and what foods aren't. Do a food pyramid coloring page so kids could see which foods they should eat the most of and which foods they should only have occasionally.
- Indulge occasionally. You don't have to avoid all sugar. Just try to make sure the treats are high quality ones. Encourage moderation. Eat fruit for dessert most of the time and save cake, ice cream, and pastries for special occasions.
|Dessert Before the Ballet in Prague|
- Know where your food comes from. Kids get excited when they get to find out where their food comes from. Take them to pick fruit or find a local dairy where you can buy milk or yogurt. The food is particularly fresh and tasty when you go to the source.
|Nectarine Picking in Idaho|
- Choose good snacks. Fruit, veggies, and nuts make good portable snacks. If you have to use something packaged look for snacks without partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial flavors and colors. Look for real food ingredients.
|Watermelon in the Park|
|Corn on the Cob at a Fest|
- Make food fun. Kids delight in fun food. Make special shapes or let them help you plan a picnic. Pinterest is a good source for unique ideas.
|Pot Pie with Heart Crust for Valentine's Day|
|Picnic After Hiking Up a Hill|
I hope you've found some good ideas that you can use to help encourage your children to be good eaters. I'd love to hear what you do in your family to encourage your children to eat healthy food.