Bad Eating Habits to Avoid with Babies & Toddlers
Your baby’s first tastes are an important step into a world of food adventure that will last a lifetime. It’s important that you set your baby off on the right foot and encourage them to have a healthy relationship with food from a very early stage.
But how does this relationship begin? What lessons should you be teaching your child from day one? And what bad eating habits should you avoid? Here are some of the main bad eating habits you should try and avoid letting your baby form, if you can:
Given the choice, most kids would rather snack and graze all day long than sit and eat a proper meal. But allowing your toddler to have more than two snacks a day is a bad habit that should be broken. Why? Because when your child is constantly eating they are never feeling hungry and learning to recognise their own hunger cues. This is an important lesson that he will need throughout his life, and the earlier he learns it the better.
Teaching them good table manners is an important part of teaching your baby about food. That means that they should, wherever possible, be encouraged to eat at the table (either on a chair or in a high chair, depending on their age). They should also be offered and praised for using cutlery at every meal and you should have a good supply of baby dribble bibs or feeding bibs so that they understand the importance of cleaning up before and after eating.
Vegetables are rich in vitamin A, C, and form an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet. Most kids prefer the sweeter tastes of fruit to vegetables (and its brilliant that your toddler eats plenty of fruit) but its important to encourage a passion for veggies too. Keep offering your child new vegetables and present them in fun and interesting ways, so that they want to try them. And don’t worry if they don’t like something straight away: it can take several tastes over several weeks to enjoy the taste of something new.
Overdoing the Sugar
It’s no secret that the modern child’s diet contains considerably more sugar than their parents and grandparent’s generations. But overdoing the sugar can lead to long term health problems in later life, including obesity, heart disease, and increased cancer risk. Sugar provides plenty of calories with no real nutritional value, and it also has addictive properties, so it’s important to limit your child’s sugar intake as much as possible. Start by not offering dessert after meals or sugary snacks: often small children eat these things because they are offered to them, rather than because they really want them.
Using Food as a Distraction
Baby crying in the supermarket? Offer a cookie. Toddler won’t stop running around in the doctor’s surgery? Give him a packet of crisps. So often parents offer their children snacks when they need to distract them and for good reason: it works! But using food to pacify your child will only set them up for a lifetime of turning to food when they are bored or need a distraction, and this is a particularly unhealthy habit to continue into adulthood.