Your children are the most precious gifts you'll ever receive, so you should handle them with care. While you worked hard to give them the best breast milk or formula when they were tiny, you may be at a loss once they begin eating solid foods - especially if you have a picky eater on your hands.
To help your little ones have the best jumpstart on a healthy and happy life, it's important that they get the same well-balanced diet that you're getting - with some slight modifications. Here are a few things to keep in mind when feeding your young and hungry little ones.
You know your child needs a solid foundation of healthy foods. What does that mean? It means plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein products. Childhood is the best time to develop a taste for whole and raw foods. With that in mind, give your child plenty of apple slices, carrots, and grapes. When your little one is in her littlest stages, go for applesauce and other baby foods that don't have sugar or other flavor-changing additives. This way, your child learns to develop a taste for food the way nature intended, which just happens to be healthiest.
One mistake when feeding your child is expecting him to have the same food preferences as you. So if you didn't like broccoli or pinto beans as a child, you're not going to feed your child those foods, because you don't expect him to like them. However, while your son might have your dimples and sense of humor, he didn't come with your taste buds. Encourage him to try a variety of healthy foods - including the ones you didn't like as a child. Who knows? You may be pleasantly surprised to find out your finicky son likes asparagus.
Dinnertime should not be a battle zone. If your child simply won't swallow her cherry tomatoes, don't give up. Instead, be ready with another option. Swap a piece of whole grain toast for a cup of yogurt, or offer the choice of a green salad or a carrot salad. And avoid the temptation to force your child to eat every bite of every bit of food on her plate - especially if you know she hates a certain food. On the other hand, if your daughter is resisting a new food she's never tried, it's a good idea to require her to take a bite or two on occasion. And remember - taste buds change over time, so it's okay to have your child taste something she's not eaten in a while.
Sometimes, your son isn't going to want to eat anything except cookies, butter popcorn, popsicles, and ice cream. You may want to throw your hands up in the air and give up on any hopes you had of having a healthy child. Don't. Just be smarter than your child. How? By taking healthy foods and burying them in what he thinks is unhealthy. Make banana-nut muffin to feed his need for cupcakes, strawberry smoothies to answer his begging for a milkshake, and whole-grain pancakes - minus the whipped cream and chocolate syrup on top.
Helping your children turn into healthy adults starts today, so don't waste any time giving your children the healthy start they deserve!