Proper eating habits start early

Every parent wants their child to develop good eating
habits. The kind that involve using a spoon or fork, saying
please and thank you, and eating while sitting down.
“Teaching starts from the very beginning,” says
parenting coach Rosemary Greisman. “You want to
establish early on the kind of eating habits you want
your child to continue throughout their lives.”
Rosemary recommends what you can start teaching and
when, starting with the first day your baby eats solids.

Four to six months

  • Now is the time to start introducing
    your baby to solids.
    It’s important to expose them
    to lots of different foods
    when they are little so they
    have an expansive palate.
  • Let them experience different
    tastes. Even if they don’t like
    it, don’t give up. Try again
    the next week. 
  • Balance vegetables, protein
    and starches by making your
    own or buying. 
  • Put them in a high chair or
    secured booster seat. 
  • Give your baby a spoon.
    They can’t use it yet but expose
    them to utensils early.

Six months to one year

  • Sit them at the table in a high
    chair when eating.
  • Share your food with your
    baby and introduce them to it
    in bite-sized pieces. 
  • Turn off distractions like the
    TV and have conversations
    around the table. 
  • Introduce a sippy cup.

One to three years

  • Teach your toddler to sit in a
    chair at the table; bring them
    back if they leave.
  • Keep introducing them to new
    tastes and textures. 
  • Offer them a snack between
    each meal, such as fruit. Skipping
    sugar is the key. You can
    set up a low shelf of foods so
    they can help themselves. This
    will help to develop their independence
    and confidence but
    in a controlled way. 
  • Introduce a regular cup. It may
    be messy, but it’s important
    that they have the opportunity
    to practise. 
  • Use kid-friendly cutlery and
    plates to make eating fun. This is important when kids are
    little. 
  • Teach them that throwing and
    spitting food is not acceptable. 
  • Ensure that they eat even a
    small breakfast even if they
    say they aren’t hungry. Protein
    is especially important in the
    morning. 
  • Offer milk, water or diluted
    juice to drink. 
  • Don’t have foods or drinks in
    the house that you don’t want
    them to have, such as pop. Try
    to avoid packaged food but
    when you do buy packaged,
    read the labels to ensure there
    are no harmful sweeteners, oils
    or other hidden ingredients.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, November 2012.

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