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Good Parenting: Creating Healthy Eating Habits in Your Kids

Fruit displayed to promote healthy eating for babies and toddlers


Tips For Healthy Eating For Babies and Toddlers 

Nothing is more important to us as parents than the health and wellbeing of our children. We dedicate a tremendous amount of time and money protecting our children, doing everything from baby-proofing to well-baby visits, regular dentist trips and of course, feeding them healthy food! Your baby’s relationship with food is one of the most important relationships in their lives. It can affect so many aspects of adult life, both mentally and physically.

It’s never too early to introduce healthy eating for babies and toddlers. Little bodies and brains need nourishing, well-balanced diets to develop properly and set the stage for healthy adulthood. Here are some tips for giving your little one a head start on a happy, wholesome relationship with good food.

  1. Stick with fruit for snack and dessert time. Many adults are used to sugary snacks and desserts as a treat, but refined sugar and other additives can wreak havoc on growing bodies. Instead, get adventurous with dried and fresh fruits*. Dried apples and peaches are both delicious and enjoyable for kids to chew. Banana chips are a fun snack for older kids. Fresh berries are a treat for young and old any time!
  1. Teach them to enjoy water. It may shock you, but many Americans survive on juice, soda, coffee, and sports drinks, never touching plain water. Compared to their preferred drinks, water seems boring and tasteless. But, hydration with pure, clean water is necessary for a healthy brain and body. Serving water with meals and snacks instead of soda or juice promotes strong development and a positive relationship with water as an adult. To us, few things taste as good as an ice-cold glass of water! For a fun twist with bubbles, try a naturally flavored seltzer for special occasions! You can even add a spot of natural juice to the water for an extra pop. We like the ⅓ juice to ⅔ water ratio.
  1. Skip food as a reward. How many of us reward ourselves with a “special treat” after an especially grueling day or to celebrate something we’re proud of? Teaching your children that food is a reward can set them up for eating problems later in life. Instead, reward your child with a fun experience, such as special time with mom or dad, helping with something “grown-up”, or watching a fun, educational TV show.

These are a just a few things you can do to help your child develop a positive relationship with food. Good habits ingrained early will benefit them for a lifetime.

*Some dried and fresh fruits contain quite a lot of sugar. Before serving them, be sure to take a look at the nutritional values and make sure that it works for your family. It’s always better to serve the whole fruits rather than just juice so that you can make sure you’re taking advantage of all of the healthy fibers in them. These healthy fibers are usually lost when the fruit is juiced.

Pro-tip: If your tot is picky about eating whole fruits, try blending them instead of juicing. This way you will still get the fibers and nutritional value!