Healthy eating is essential for your child’s good health, growth and development. Regardless of how young your little ones are, it is highly beneficial for them to get a well-balanced and diverse diet.
When children have the right eating habits at a young age, you help them get all the nutrients they need to support their optimum growth and development. You also enable them to meet all the milestones set at their age range.
When your little ones are properly nourished in their early years and they reach all the developmental milestones successfully, you can be sure they will stay physically and mentally healthy now and in the future.
Healthy and Happy Eating for Everyone
Whether your children are in baby nursery school or kindergarten, you can help them develop the right eating habits without too much fuss and stress by following these tips:
1. Teach the basics through fun ways first
Children need to know that not all kinds of food are good for their bodies. They have to understand that eating too much of certain snacks or ingredients can cause different health problems, including dental-related ones. And if they want to stay strong and fit, they have to choose more nutritious options to load upon.
You can help your preschoolers learn to make healthy eating choices through games. For example, you can cut out pictures of various foods and prepare a sheet of paper divided into two columns, one with a heading that says, “Good Every Day,” the other with “Good Occasionally.”
If you have a whiteboard at home, you can use it as their work board instead of paper.
Have your children place the cutouts under each column using sticky tape. In addition to preparing photos of foods that your little ones can categorize easily, you can also include ones that may confuse them, such as products that are marketed towards them.
Once your children have completed the game, talk about the choices they made and discuss any decisions they made that may need improvement. Explain the benefits they can get when they eat more of the items under the “Good Every Day” column, too.
Another fun way of teaching preschoolers healthy eating choices is by reading stories to them. There are plenty of books that illustrate what happens to the body when children eat more nutritious foods..
2. Show your children where healthy food comes from
Help your preschoolers learn more about the different types of food by taking them to markets and farms..
During the weekend or whenever your children do not have school, bring them to a farmer’s market or a dairy, vegetable, or fruit farm. Ask the farmers to share some details about how they grow and harvest their products.
If you are going to a farm, find out if you can have the children pick and taste the fruit or veggie for a fee. This is an experience they will never forget.
Starting an edible garden in your yard is also a brilliant idea to help children learn more about the process of growing food. Assist them with planting the seeds, taking care of the plants, and harvesting the bounties when they are ripe.
If you don’t have a lawn, consider starting a window garden or cultivating edible plants in pots.
When your children have an idea of how food is produced, they will learn to appreciate their meals more. They will be eager to eat them as well since they had a hand in growing them.
3. Include your children in meal planning and food shopping
To help preschoolers learn more about making healthy eating choices and get them excited about the food you will prepare, include them in your weekly meal planning activities.
Create a list of dishes and snacks that you want to serve for the week. Include their favorite ones and add new options that you want them to try.
Have your little ones choose which foods they would love to have for their meals and snacks. Once they have decided, let them help with creating your grocery shopping list.
Bring your preschoolers with you when you go grocery shopping. Let them pick out the items on the list. While walking around the aisles, point out other fruits and vegetables you are not getting and share some key details about them, such as their nutrient content, taste, and how they can be cooked.
Your usual chore of meal planning and grocery shopping can become a fun educational experience for your preschoolers, so involve them when you do this every week.
4. Allow your little ones to have a hand in preparing the meals
Prepping meals is another activity that can teach children about healthy eating habits and allow them to have fun at the same time.
Have your little ones help you with simple food prep tasks, such as peeling bananas, adding berries or nuts in batters, and mixing ingredients in a bowl. If they haven’t tasted a particular fruit or veggie before, give them a small piece to sample.
Allowing your preschoolers to prepare their snacks or meals on their own is also a fun way to let them explore more foods. One example of doing this is by creating a parfait bar: place dishes of various fruits and other ingredients and let them choose which ones to put in their glasses or bowls.
You can also do the same with pizzas or tacos to spice up your lunch or dinner.
Additionally, you can ensure your preschoolers will eat what is in their lunch box when you allow them to prepare their snacks for recess.
Keep in mind that when children are involved in the process, they will become more motivated to eat more and try new foods. As such, try to include them in planning and preparing meals as often as possible.
5. Make family meals a daily habit
Having everyone at the table during mealtimes is a good eating habit that children should learn at an early age.
When the whole family is at the table, all the members will have the opportunity to catch up with one another. This is an excellent way for the household to strengthen their bond.
Family meals are also great opportunities for the parents and older kids to become excellent role models for the younger ones. When your little ones see you enjoying the meal and being adventurous with your food choices, they will follow your lead. And this will help them develop the right eating habits.
To help your children broaden their palate and get the nutrients they need, make sure you offer several choices during mealtimes.
When your little ones develop healthy eating habits at a young age, you will help them keep these good practices for a long time, thereby ensuring their wellness through to adulthood.