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Encouraging your child to eat healthyYou play a large role in helping your child to develop food preferences. According to research, many children become fussy, when it comes to eating, at around 18-24 months. You might notice a child that once loved to eat a variety of foods suddenly has a list of foods they no longer want to touch. Getting a child to accept new foods becomes a nightmare for many parents. Below are a few tricks you can try to encourage healthy eating.
- Make mealtime a fun time - try to avoid unpleasantness if a child is not eating, encourage a positive atmosphere and let mealtime be a time that is looked forward to rather than dreaded. Adding fun such as making smiley faces out of food and making mini versions of dishes seems to be a hit with many children!
- Do not use junk food as a reward for good eating - this might trigger unhealthy eating habits, an undesired effect. Instead, try using an activity or outing as a reward like taking them to the swimming pool or park.
- Keep trying new foods - variety is the spice of life so expose your child to a range of foods, tastes and textures from an early age. There's nothing wrong with putting those taste buds to work!
- Role models - use yourself, siblings or other people like friends as role models when it comes to their eating habits.
- Easy access - keep healthy food options easily accessible. For example, have some fruit in a bowl lying around. They can only eat what they are given so make sure the choices you make for them are healthy.
- Praise healthy choices - proud smiles, high fives and encouragement when they choose healthy foods will encourage them to do the same thing next time.
- Involve them when cooking - when children become more involved in choosing or preparing meals, they will be more interested in eating their own creations. If they are old enough, let them do the cutting. Otherwise, let them play with flour, get their hands dirty and get a real foodie experience!