Making sure your child has proper nutrition can prove frustrating, particularly when that child is a picky eater. Children need the energy from nutritious foods to sustain play and exercise. So what’s a mother to do? We asked some local experts, a pediatrician and a few mothers, for first-hand tips on healthier eating habits for kids. It was a messy affair. :)
The following tips can help assure that your child is eating healthy.
Parents don’t have to be overwhelmed or stressed-out trying to provide proper nutrition for their kids, says Paul Leland, DO, of Southeast Pediatrics. With a little effort, your children can be eating a healthier diet. The following tips can help assure that your child is eating healthy.
Stick to your routine. Serve meals and snacks about the same times daily. Provide juice or milk with the food, and offer water between meals and snacks.
Partner new foods with your child’s favorite foods.
Be patient with new healthy foods. Young kids often touch or smell new foods. Encourage your son or daughter by talking about a food’s color, shape and texture. Partner new foods with your child’s favorite foods.
Make it fun. Cut healthier food choices into various shapes with cookie cutters. Serve a variety of brightly colored foods.
Recruit your child’s help. At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.
Set a good example. Parents should be good role models by eating healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables.
For a toddler, a serving should be about a fourth of the portion appropriate for an adult.
Provide a proper serving. For a toddler, a serving should be about a fourth of the portion appropriate for an adult. A serving of vegetables for a toddler would be about 1 to 2 tablespoons. For meat, a serving might be about the size of the child’s palm.
...if you think taking candy away from a baby makes them cry, try pulling a slice of fresh watermelon away even for a second to just clean off some grass. Yikes!
We met up with a few local mothers to find out what they are doing to keep their kids healthy and strong. We offered the kids a slice of watermelon and they went crazy for it. This is no lie when I say if you think taking candy away from a baby makes them cry, try pulling a slice of fresh watermelon away even for a second to just clean off some grass. Yikes! Anyway, we had a great time and the kids were super well behaved. You can tell their mothers take great care of them.
Laura and Emily are sisters-in-law. Lacey is a family friend. The boys: Emery was born on February 18, 2012; Rowan was born February 20, 2012; and Nolan February 22, 2012 (they were each 2 days apart). There must have been some kind of party nine months earlier? -It had to be said. :)
Laura said, "Emery started out on vegetables with no complaint, his favorite vegetable was, and still is, sweet potatoes. Then we slowly added in some fruits to his daily diet. His beverage choices are whole milk, water, and apple juice. Snack time is his favorite time of the day and typically bananas, apples, and mashed peas. We structure his menu to follow our healthy diet. We believe a healthy diet is the most important lesson we can teach our son other than unconditional love.
Start children on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. -Proverbs 22:6.
Emily said, “When our son Rowan was able to start eating solid foods we knew it was essential for him to start eating vegetables. That is one of the foods, that gets neglected most when it comes to nutrition. We started him out on carrots, sweet potatoes, and peas. He got to where he was eating those very well and then we introduced green beans, squash, and pears. Green beans are now his favorite. It is amazing the things you will eat when you introduce healthy foods to your children. We have never really cared much for vegetables, but now we cook them with every meal. We figure to teach your children to eat healthy, it starts at a young age. You must make them eat vegetables in order for them to have well balanced nutrition.”
Lacey said, “I started Nolan out on veggies and then fruits, and today he still loves them. His favorite foods are eggs, grilled cheese and chicken. For snacks, he loves all types of fruits and yogurt. He would really rather eat fruit than anything else! He usually drinks only whole milk and water throughout the day and occasionally apple juice. He is a very good eater and loves trying new foods. I try to limit the amount of fried and processed food that I let him have.”
Your child’s eating habits won’t change overnight, but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy nutrition. -Dr. Leland
Paul Leland, DO is affiliated with Southeast Pediatrics, 25 Doctors’ Park in Cape Girardeau. Dr. Leland specializes in Pediatrics. He is board certified in general pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics and previously served as lead pediatric hospitalist at Southeast Hospital in Cape Girardeau. He holds a medical degree from University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa.
words & pics by t. smugala
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