“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.”
– Pablo Casals
Happy New Year from The Children’s Center!
We hope your 2022 is off to a great start and that like us, you are ready for another year of learning, growing, and expanding into the best you can be. We know we are already having a blast back in the classroom learning together!
We know that the year typically begins by creating New Year’s Resolutions. We also know that often by February or March we are right back to our old habits. We also know a common resolution for many is to eat healthier in the new year. As a parent, making healthy food appealing to your child may prove particularly difficult, especially if they are a picky eater. So how can we encourage healthy eating at home AND make sure our commitment to this goal sticks? Here are a few ideas:
1. Baby steps
The American Psychological Association recommends only committing to changes you know you can make. By choosing things you know are manageable, there is a much higher likelihood you will see them through. So, what does this look like for your toddler? Rather than overhauling everything you normally eat, start by including one healthier item in each meal. For example, if a typical dinner for your child includes sliced hot dogs and French fries, try adding some canned corn or fresh carrots to the mix.
It is important to remember that in the first five years of life, children’s development is exponential, and they are forming lifelong behaviors in these early years. While it may be challenging to introduce healthier foods into your toddler’s diet, now is the best time to do it! You can read more about the development of healthy and unhealthy eating habits in toddlers here.
2. Make your meals look appealing
None of us want to eat something that looks unappealing, and children are especially prone to “judge a book by its cover” when it comes to food. Something as simple as forming vegetables into shapes or combining healthy items in a unique way (such as peanut butter on celery with raisin “ants” on top of the “log”) can help children view new and healthy foods as fun! If you eat the same healthy foods and make sure your child knows you find it delicious, this will also help children view unfamiliar foods as delicious too! Healthline gives some fun ideas for making easy and creative meals for toddlers here.
3. Pair unfamiliar foods with familiar foods
We mentioned this when discussing making minor changes but pairing familiar foods with unfamiliar foods is a terrific way to introduce new foods in an unthreatening way. This is particularly important for picky eaters! For some children texture, smell, and the look of new foods can be a total turn off. If your child is a picky eater, giving them time to smell, touch, and put their food in their mouth without swallowing can help them grow comfortable with the idea of something new. Being patient and consistent is helpful!
Be patient with your little one and remember that it is normal for children to be uncomfortable with what is unfamiliar. Click here for more tips on how to encourage your picky eater to make healthy food choices.
4. Make sure YOU eat what you feed your kids
We know that children model what they see, and as parents, you are the most influential individuals to your children. Preparing healthy foods you like and vocalizing your enjoyment to your little ones can help them feel safer and more encouraged to try unfamiliar foods. For more tips on feeding a toddler who is a picky eater click here.
5. Involve your kiddos!
As much as possible, involving children in meal preparation and planning can help minimize resistance to the meal. For example, asking “would you like a yogurt and eggs or oatmeal for breakfast” can help your child feel they had some say in what was served. Ensuring the options you give are both healthy can create a win-win situation for you and your child! Check out this link for some creative ideas for healthy meals for toddlers!
If you’d like to learn more about how unhealthy food preferences are developed in children click here. We hope these ideas help for a smooth inclusion of healthy eating into your daily routine!
Before you go, look who is talking! We are so thankful to be impacting the lives of children and families like the Eigemann’s in the Lowcountry!
Do you want to make a difference? We are looking for full-time and part-time employees! E-mail resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.