Many transitions happen within the first year of a child’s life and nutrition is an important one. Healthy eating is essential to a child’s well-being. Pediatricians recommend that the introduction of solid foods can start as early as 6 months, with the child’s motor skills and developmental stage serving as additional benchmarks for determining readiness for such foods.
Children are curious and through exposure they can try a variety of tastes, textures, and colors. Early exposure to fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutritious foods has been linked to greater consumption of healthier foods and a decrease in picky eaters and other health complications later in life.
The following are tips to take advantage of your child’s curiosity and expose them to healthy foods:
- Do not get discouraged if your child will not eat a new food the first time you serve it. Sometimes as parents, we become discouraged when our child displays an aversion to specific foods, causing us to abandon further attempts of introducing the food. Some kids will need to have a new food served to them 10 times or more before they will eat it.
- Plan healthy meals and eat together as a family. By eating meals together, you are leading by example, and this helps children learn to enjoy a variety of foods. This provides a valuable opportunity for children to observe you’re eating habits, fostering their ability to embrace a wider variety of flavors and ingredients.
- Develop a snack schedule. By having a set snack time, you can avoid spoiling children’s lunch/dinner, and reduce snacking out of boredom. Many adults struggle with snacking, which can lead to overeating. As a rule of thumb, spacing meals/snacks to every 2-3 hours is ideal for developing healthy eating habits.
- Make healthy choices easy by putting nutritious foods where they are seen. This creates an environment that encourages both you and your family members to gravitate toward these healthier options.
Hillary Aponte-Chimelis, LPC, PMH-C, R-PLC
4641 Pottsville Pike, suite 101B
Reading, PA 19605