As your baby becomes a toddler, you will soon discover an iron will to do things themselves and their own way. It is good to encourage this natural tendency to help them become independent. Be protective but not over-protective.
One of the important skills is healthy eating habits and kids learn from what they see around themselves. So it is important that parents do what they preach. Here we enlist some handy tips to inculcate healthy eating habits in toddlers:
Mix it up
It is important to serve variety not just to introduce them to your tot but also to keep boredom away. Who wants to eat the same cereal and rice each day. Serve nutritious, colourful meals and your kid will start enjoying them sooner or later.
Serve small portions
Parents often feel tempted to load their child’s plates with food. This may put off the child enough not to eat what she wants and also leads to wastage. Small portions and frequent meals are the way to go. If the child finishes up the plate or wants more of something, you can always serve again.
Serve food at regular times
You should not let your child eat throughout the day and skip meal times. It may be tempting to do so if the child has not eaten well, but it will continue if she fills her little tummy up between mealtimes. Serve breakfast, lunch and dinner along with 2-3 snacks.
Try eating together as a family whenever possible. Seeing elders eat is a great motivation to imitate them for a toddler. When your toddlers sees you enjoying healthy, homemade food, s/he is more likely to try those her/himself.
Cut down on milk
If you toddler still has 4 bottles of milk, that may be cutting down her appetite for solids. Give between 12-20 oz milk in a day at regular times preferably only a couple of times. As you child grows, limit milk intake to not more than 250-300 ml during the day.
Let your kid explore
Show the child real vegetables, fruits and other raw items. It is much better than showing them pictures in a book. It will also entice them to try them raw or in a salad. Vegetables like cucumber and tomato are great.
Serve finger foods
Finger foods allow toddlers to assert their independence and feel proud that they can feed themselves. You must encourage this by serving healthy finger foods. Finger foods can be any kind of food which can be easily head by tiny fingers and taken to mouth.
No fast foods
Your child does not know about sweets and fries and burgers till you introduce them to her. So delay this as long as possible and when she does come to know about them, serve them only once in a while as a treat. Also, talk t the child about healthy and unhealthy/junk foods so that they become responsible eaters themselves. These good habits will serve them for life.
Serve new foods often.
If a child rejects something new, do not force it but do not take that as a cue to not serve it in future. Keep serving it in different forms and your kid may finally feel tempted enough to try. Say, you child hated egg when served it scrambled, next serve it as an omelette or boiled.
Disguise food as something more enticing.
Roll up a parantha or chapatti stuffed with rajma and fresh vegetables like onions and tomatoes and salad leaves, wrap in a paper towel and serve with cheese and tomato sauce as a Mexican burrito or enchilada. Serve salads in innovative shapes.
Desserts are not mandatory
Save desserts and sweets for special occasions. They should not be part of everyday meals.
Keep chocolates at bay as much as possible. Toddlers who are not introduced to chocolates at home did not feel tempted even when others offer.
Water is the best beverage. If your child does not like water, squeeze fresh fruits like sweetlime, lemon and orange into water and give rather than serving packaged juices and drinks.
Practice what you preach.
Above all, you cannot expect your toddler to eat healthy and drink water when you yourself down carbonated drinks and eat greasy, heavy food. Remember that kids do not do what we tell them but they follow what they see around them.
Following these tips consistently will definitely ensure that your kids develop healthy eating habits over time. Do you have any other tips that you would like to share.