Small child

Eat or indulge? Shaping proper eating habits


As loving parents, we want our children to be strong, healthy and happiest in the world. We cook, buy the best ingredients, dishes from reputable companies ... In a word, we plead as best as we can, and when the time comes for a meal something that often resembles a circus begins. A scream, evasions that GoĊ‚ota would not be ashamed of, a face smeared with carrots, a review of the day on the floor, and we are wondering whether to wear a protective apron and glasses during the next dinner. The worst thing we can do in this situation is to give in to emotions and give up.

Baby nutrition - a path through torment?

If someone once told you that raising a child is easy, then you probably have no children alone, or have not been home for a few good years. A child, especially an infant who cannot speak, will send us millions of nonverbal information daily. It is only up to us whether we will try to understand and interpret them correctly. Toddlers will react to any unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation with clear disobedience or malice. Our task is to find a way to familiarize the child with the novelty, while not discouraging him.

Set-up after set-up

There are numerous mishaps when giving meals to a child. Unfortunately, we are not aware of this until someone pays attention to it, and if, unfortunately, it is a mother-in-law or a smart neighbor, we will probably go on in spite of it. Therefore, I will try to briefly describe our parental errors (which are somehow due to our boundless care and love), and maybe someone will be able to avoid them.

Mom, I'm not hungry

One of our most common mistakes is giving your child too many meals and snacks throughout the day. The half-yearly toddler should eat 5-6 meals a day, and studies show that record holders reach up to 13 during the day. In such a case, how should the child have an appetite for a delicious dinner?

On the other hand it stands the problem of skipping meals and their irregularity. The adult lifestyle is inappropriate for an intensively growing baby. Complete meals should be an indispensable ritual every day.

If your toddler refuses to eat a meal at lunchtime, wait 30 minutes and try serving it again. Do not give "anything" in return, especially highly processed and unhealthy snacks. The child will not allow himself to be hungry and will definitely ask for a meal. Replacing a full-fledged meal with your favorite snacks only so that "anything in your stomach" does not lead to anything. It inhibits hunger, does not provide any valuable ingredients and develops bad eating habits. Over time, it leads to hypertension, obesity and other diseases.

Don't give another snack every 15 minutes, especially when the child's motor activity is reduced. Snacking is a bad way to get bored.

Remember, however Don't force a child to eat if he doesn't feel like it. Pressing forcibly food will do even more harm than an uneaten dinner. A child forced to eat "by force" will probably not associate every meal. When he starts to treat dinner time as a punishment, he will be only a step away from becoming a claw.

Teach me to bite!

Studies show that we are happy to go the easy way. It is easier for children to swallow meals with a homogenised consistency than lumps and cuts, but we must be aware that an 8-month-old toddler should eat meals with clearly noticeable lumps. Too long feeding can result in delayed speech development in the child.

I know from experience that children can rebel during the first attempts at serving a meal with a lumpy consistency. In this case, it is worth mixing a portion of the soup and mixing it with the raw part. By gradually changing the proportions, we will come to the point where this procedure will not be necessary and the child will not even notice the difference.

I'm thirsty !

serve too many juices and sweetened drinks. Some of us even sweeten water to make it tastier (? !!?). This fatal approach leads to the fact that the child has a worse appetite for nutritious meals, and excess sugar leads to obesity and caries.
The child should consume juices, but not more than 150ml during the day. It is best if it is a portion drunk once. For drinking the best will be ordinary water, which hydrates the child's body and does not suppress the appetite. In addition, it develops the right habits for the future.

Blee, how tasteless ...

We customize the meals for our children. Everything is fine if we season it with healthy and permitted herbs, but if we are among those who reach for salt and sugar, let's start worrying. Let's not be guided by our taste and preferences, seasoning the dish for the toddler. Our taste buds are already "spoiled" by not necessarily good habits. What seems salty and bland to us will be a real bomb of flavors for a child. Salt overloads the child's immature kidneys, and sugar will make the natural taste of fruit and vegetables no longer attractive.

I honestly admit that since my younger daughter turned one year I stopped using salt at all. It took us only 72 hours to get rid of the salty taste of our favorite dishes. From now on, our whole family eats healthy, because salt does not only harm the youngest.

Have dinner, honey

Although it seems strange to some, some mothers give up their first attempts to eat with a spoon trying to give babies soups through a teat. Dear mothers, I understand that your patience has run out, but doing so will not teach your child proper table behavior. A toddler will not learn to eat with a spoon if he does not have the opportunity to improve this art, and prolonged sucking the bottle leads to malocclusion and tooth decay.

I recommend attaching great importance to how we eat meals. Let's try to sit the whole family at the table as often as possible, talk about proper behavior at the table and give an example to the children by their own behavior. Children are happy to imitate their parents, and dinner always tastes better in excellent company.

Healthy and colorful

Our children eat too poor and monotonous meals. This problem applies to both meat and fish as well as vegetables and fruit. Sometimes, parents they introduce meat and fish too late to the baby's diet, and it should be on his plate between 6-7 months of age. Unfortunately, a daily portion of fruit and vegetables is not just a carrot for dinner and an apple for dessert. It is well-known, but the diet of a young person should be rich in various vegetables and fruits. ½ of the meal should be vegetables, and fruit served as a healthy equivalent of sweet snacks, for afternoon tea and lunch.

The sooner we start to diversify the child's diet with colorful vegetables and fruits, the easier it will be for the child to accept their taste. Even if we do not like the taste of Brussels sprouts ourselves, let's offer it to the child. Perhaps the first attempt will end in failure, but if we try patiently and consistently, we will definitely like it, and maybe we will also let ourselves be persuaded to something healthier than fried cabbage?

Dear parent, if your daily meals leave you awake at night, and your child spits in your eye with spinach, maybe my advice above will help at least minimize the scale of the problem. Maybe you are one of those unconscious mothers whose mother-in-law rubs her hands to point out another stumble. Don't let her do it and use this article for your own and your little baby's sake.

The most important principles of healthy eating

All opinions and suggestions expressed in the article are very accurate. As a nutritionist, I would like to highlight the most important elements of a healthy diet for children:

  1. Serving 5 varied meals (no more, if we go for a walk with the child after the second breakfast, the child certainly will not get hungry at dinner, so why give him crisps, biscuits, fingers, thick lenses and other snacks?)
  2. High supply of vegetables and fruit (here it is worth paying attention to our habits, if we are not supporters of these products ourselves, we do not expect our toddler to be willing to eat them. Children are watchful observers and they will eat what we like.)
  3. Watering instead of lenses, drinks and thick puree juices.
  4. Providing children with whole grains such as cereal, rice, pasta and bread.
  5. Negligible supply of highly processed products and sugar. Not only to the risk of tooth decay, but also to reduce the immunity of our children.
Magdalena Kubik With education in food technologist, dietitian and diet coach. She is a passionate propagator of healthy cuisine and slow foods. Combining education and passion, she created the Fit & You Dietary Cabinet where I transfer my knowledge and positive energy. Privately, a mother of a fantastic young man (born in 2000).