We are all concerned about our children’s eating habits at one point or another. So how do we make the transition from milk to enjoying various foods?
The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, after that an introduction of a variety of food is recommended at different stages of a child’s growth and development. We are encouraged to introduce both variety and texture to a baby’s diet.
Studies have shown that fussy eating habits are often formed if textured foods are not introduced early on in a baby’s life. Textured foods, for example, can include mashed fruit or vegetables or convenient pouch foods.
Research has indicated that 20% of babies were defined as being fussy eaters when textured or lumpy food was not introduced between six and nine months of age. In contrast, babies who were fed a variety of textured foods were happy to explore different tastes and enjoyed their food at meal times.
So how else can we encourage our baby or toddler to eat?
- Most children will refuse a new food in the beginning, but one needs to persevere. You often have to offer a food up to 10 times before a child will accept it and be willing to try it.
- Be relaxed. A stressed mom or dad can result in a fussy or stressed child at meal times.
- Children are very busy and prefer to play than sit and eat, so keep meals small and meal times short.
- Encourage your child to self-feed, even though they might make a mess.
- Often parents are worried that their child isn’t eating enough. A child will never voluntarily starve themselves unless they are ill.
- Healthy eating habits lead to a healthy body and are essential in avoiding eating problems later on in life.
- Children mimic their parent’s behaviour, and often a parent who is deliberate about the food they eat will translate into a fussy eater.
- Fruit mixed with cereal or yoghurt makes great starter meals.
- If a child does not like a particular food, leave it for a few days, and then try again.
There are amazing food pouches on the market such as the De-lish products, that it makes it easier to get your little one used to eating and learning about the tastes and textures of new foods. So moms and dads relax and take it one step at a time.