Set up good mealtime habits and your little one will have a healthy outlook on food for the rest of his life
Whether you're just embarking on weaning your baby, have become a pro at whipping up a tasty meal when your little one is bawling with hunger or dodging carrot missiles as your toddler gets to grips with cutlery, the food lessons you teach your child now can help foster a love of mealtimes and ensure she has a positive view on food. Paediatric nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed gives her tips.
Make mealtimes fun
Try to eat together as a family whenever possible and make it fun for your little one by singing songs or talking about the food. Enjoying her dinnertime environment is an important part of encouraging your baby to enjoy her meals and can make it easier to encourage healthy eating as she gets older.
Serve up plenty of variety
The more variety you offer to your baby when they are young, the more they are likely to eat as they get older. As she grows, ensure you always offer different foods in different colours, shapes, tastes and textures and let your child become familiar with them all. This will help ensure she is less fussy and also that she consumes a good balance of all the nutrients she needs each day.
Encourage a healthy food routine
Getting your child used to a structure around mealtimes may help her to become more aware of hunger and fullness cues. A routine such as three main meals and a couple of healthy snacks may also reduce the need for grazing or eating out of boredom or habit.
Teach them about food
Allowing your toddler to learn all about food and what exactly she is eating as early as possible can encourage her to enjoy her foods more. Involve your child in the growing, cooking and of course eating it from an early age.
Prepare food in a way that is reasonably easy for your baby or toddler to manage, for example finger foods or thickened soups. Don't rush her. If she's eating slowly but independently, she'll enjoy the process more and that will help to ensure she enjoys both the independence and the experience of eating.
How do you ensure your mealtimes with your baby are fun and enjoyable? Let us know in the comment box below.