Learning to eat is a process of discovery and your child will learn emotional lessons along the way. Weaningis a great time to take steps to try and prevent fussy eating habits developing. Here are some tips from the experts at Yummy Discoveries to get you started:
1. Do not allow anyone, except your child, to put food into their mouth
WHY:Older children may regress and want the attention of being spoon-fed themselves.
2. Sit with your child and enjoy eating too
WHY: You are modelling positive behaviour and emotions around food. It’s ok if they don’t eat much initially. Nutrition mainly comes from breast milk or formula for the first 12 months.
WHY: Eating is a social, enjoyable activity. Your child learns to associate eating with pleasure instead of being ignored or left alone. Eating a family meal fosters family bonding.
WHY:Your child will not associate eating with stress. Stress slows the digestive system and suppresses appetite.
WHY:Eating family meals fosters conversation – preschool children who eat with the family have better language skills.
WHY:Your child will want to copy you. Seeing you eating a food will encourage them to try it.
3. Cook real food for your child (most of the time)
WHY:Processed foods do not resemble real food; e.g. broccoli, asparagus or pears. The more varied textures/flavours your child encounters, the wider range of food they will accept.
WHY:Don’t worry about serving natural, fresh foods at every meal, but allow fresh, home-cooked food to dominate. This will encourage healthy eating habits.
4. Offer a choice of foods
WHY:Making a decision is empowering, even for children. However, offer a closed, ‘A or B’ type choice.
WHY:At this young age, your child is learning to make healthy eating choices.
5. Set the hierarchy
WHY:Everybody likes to control their own decisions. Being offered a choice gives a feeling of being on control and encourages accountability. The parent makes the BIG decisions and child makes the SMALL decisions.