Food and Nutrition for Kids: An Essential Element of Parenting

Most mothers live in a constant state of worry about the proper food and nutrition for their kids and how to go about achieving it. The problem does not lie with their lack of information but with the uncooperative attitude of their children. Almost all kids seem to have problems with consuming the kind of nutritious food that aids mental and physical development. Struggles relating to food and nutrition for kids are ubiquitous and mothers are commonly found discussing strategies to overcome this barrier. How do you ensure that your child has a healthy eating habit and does not fall ill or suffer otherwise due to inadequate nutrition in his diet?

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The frank answer is that you have to begin planning right from your child’s infancy so that she is naturally attracted to healthy food. Proper food and nutrition for kids is not something that you can change overnight after the realization dawns in that you have a problem on your hands with your kids’ eating pattern. However, with some perseverance, you will achieve your goal and your child will turn into an adventurous and keen eater. The best way to start, though, is from the initial stages when you breastfeed your child.

Breastfeeding ensures that your child has only the necessary amount of milk and does not drink even when she is satiated. This is one of the drawbacks of bottle-feeding wherein the parent encourages the child to drink the entire bottle and the child does so despite feeling full. If this habit of over-eating persists into adult life, your child may face problems of obesity and other weight related issues. So, stop the bottle and start breast-feeding your child whenever possible.

A great way to guarantee proper food and nutrition habits for kids is to have your kids share their mealtime with you. A small toddler feels grown-up and important by being included in this ritual. This will make her more receptive to new food items on the table. Observing the talk and the laughter that accompanies food will also heighten her sense of well-being and this feeling is extended to the food that goes with it.

Many a time, parents do not let children eat by themselves even if that is what the child wants. Mothers especially fear the resultant mess when the child feeds herself. This hurts the tender ego of your child who perceives it as a complete lack of control over her activities. Many kids refuse food thereafter as they want to express their sense of dissatisfaction in some way or the other. Losing your rigidity as a parent is very important here. You need to let your child experiment with her capabilities and eating food by herself is high on the priority list of to-dos for your child. By allowing your child to do this, you are not only providing nutrition for kids but also helping them become more independent.

A reliable method of tempting your child to try new items on his platter is by presenting her with a wide array of interesting choices. Of course, lack of time may not always permit you to do so, but at least try this twice a week so that your child looks forward to the menu and forms a good impression of the whole eating experience.

Since most kids are averse to trying out vegetables and fruits in their diet, proper food and nutrition for kids means devising creative ways of getting them involved in the cooking process. You could even take them to the supermarket with you and let them select a vegetable or fruit of their choice. Planting your own garden is another way of provoking the curiosity of your child. You can encourage your child to tend certain vegetable plants as a pet project. Your child will naturally be interested in sampling out vegetables or fruits that come from his/her particular plant. Letting your child help with the cooking will also prompt him to take an active part in the proceedings and feel a direct interest in the food menu.

As kids have a tendency to get bored with repetitive food choices, exert your ingenuity and culinary skills by coming up with something totally novel once in a while. Your child will definitely appreciate your efforts and reciprocate with fervor by avidly trying out your menu. Combining vegetables with food items like pizza, soups, macaroni and cheese, etc. is a good way of meeting nutrition requirements for kids. Again, whipping up a healthy fruit salad frequently and storing fresh fruits can serve as a healthy replacement for your child’s desert needs.

Despite your diverse tactics, your child may disappoint you once in a while and refuse healthy food. Do not react with anger and frustration at these times and above all, never coerce your child into eating as this will infuse a negative feeling into the entire eating experience. The mature thing to do during such occasions is to just let go and present the same item at some future juncture when your child is more amenable to trying out new food items. This will help your food and nutrition for kids plan in the long run.

One of the best ways to create a healthy eating pattern for your child is to focus on family mealtimes. Make this time of the day as leisurely as possible and make the dining place a venue for discussing things that you enjoy or the good things that happened to each family member that day. You should always try and avoid arguments or other negative emotions from creeping into the family mealtime as this will directly impact the quality of your eating experience. Thus, if family mealtimes can be converted into ‘happy times’ for your family, your kids will pick up healthy eating patterns and your food and nutrition for kids plan will be a success.

However, when following or including these tips into your family plan, do remember that every child will have specific nutrition needs and a generalized nutrition for kids plan will not work. Also, kids’ appetites and tastes keep on changing every day, so you need to develop a flexible approach to your child’s eating habits and never impose a harsh diet regime for your child. Apart from this, you also need to focus on your own dietary intake. If you follow a healthy lifestyle and opt for healthy and nutritious food, your children will automatically follow your example. This will make it very easy for you to adopt a well-rounded diet plan for your child. So, before your start advising your child on correct eating habits, implement these into your own dietary schedule. By providing proper food and nutrition for your kids, you will be blessed with kids who are healthy, well-developed and lead a relatively disease-free life. Isn’t that a parent’s dream come true?

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