Raise healthy eaters
YOU HEAR a report about school-aged kids’ poor nutrition and think that’s so far away for your little baby or toddler. But because most food learning occurs during the first five years of life, what you do from day one can affect your child’s health – and what they eat – when they get older.
Infants: birth to six months
Everyone knows that infants need breast milk or formula the first few months of life. While breast milk is still the preferred nutrition source, formula is a good second choice.
Feeding tip: Try not to overfeed or underfeed your baby. If baby is crying and feeding time was recent, try other ways of soothing before feeding. On the other hand, if nothing else will calm your baby, by all means see if they need milk.
Infants: six to 12 months
This is a time of rapid food transitions starting with watery-textured food, gradually increasing to puree, advancing to lumpy puree and finally moving up to soft, cut up finger foods.
Feeding tip: Most babies are accepting of a variety of tastes and textures, so take advantage of it. Remember, this is a rapid transition time so when your child is doing well, step up the texture to guide him or her to the next stage.
Toddlers: one to three years
Toddlers under two still need a high fat diet (30-45 per cent) including whole fat dairy products. If a toddler has progressed to finger foods, he or she can eat what the whole family eats, but watch for choking hazards.
Feeding tip: Gradually increase the consistency of food as they get older, cut up food into small pieces and always supervise at mealtime.
Preschoolers: three to five years
This is a time when kids become more independent, notice what their friends are eating and start to eat food outside of the home. Studies reveal that children at this stage are more likely to eat higher quantities of fat, saturated fat and sugar from sweets and sweetened beverages.
Feeding tip: Preschoolers want to be just like their parents, so eat with them as often as possible. This is the perfect time to have your child help pick out food and prepare dinner.
Once your child is in school full-time, they will be eating more meals outside the home. Much of the work you’ve put in will start to pay off. If you’ve made mealtimes pleasant and provided your child with a variety of food, they are likely to be competent eaters outside of the home.
Feeding tip: Adolescents who eat dinner with their family on a regular basis have better diets and lower weights than those who don’t. Serve fruits and vegetables with every meal and have the family eat together most nights.