Raise healthy eaters

Jamaica Gleaner - - CARING FOR & NURTURING OUR CHILDREN - Source: raise­healthyeaters.com

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.

School-aged chil­dren

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.

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