Influencing your child's eating habits

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Highlights
  • Encourage good eating habits by offering healthy foods and letting your child decide what to eat and how much.
  • Be a positive role model by letting your child see you eat a wide variety of foods.

Your Toddler is establishing his taste preferences and laying the foundation for healthy eating habits. While these eating habits may change over time, this is a great chance to shape his food preferences and habits.

The way you talk to your child while feeding, your facial expressions and your own food choices are all making an impression on him. Being a positive role model with your own good eating habits will help him.

What’s your feeding style?

Your feeding style can influence your Toddler’s food preferences. Certain feeding styles can result in predicable behaviors for children. Research has shown that positive outcomes occur when you provide healthy food options and let your little one choose what and how much he eats. 

Your feeding style can influence your child’s food preferences and eating behavior.

Feeding tips that work

Based on behavior research with moms and their children, here are some tips that seem to work best when it comes to establishing good eating habits.

  • Be a role model. Let your child see you enjoying all types of food, especially vegetables. He’ll learn by watching you.
  • Encourage your child to eat, but have simple and realistic expectations. Expect him to try a new vegetable on his plate, but perhaps not finish all of it.
  • Consistency is important. Offer a new food up to ten times and keep offering new foods he has never tried.
  • Don’t make demands for him to eat food that he just isn’t willing to accept. Try and be sensitive to what foods please your child, and reinforce them. Try serving food your child likes with new foods he may not like yet.
  • Give him some freedom of choice, but remember that you’re still in charge of what goes on the plate.
  • Avoid pressure at mealtime. A demanding, high-pressure atmosphere at the table can create a picky eater and an overall unpleasant eating experience for everyone.
  • Avoid food rewards. This can backfire and result in a negative association for your child with a particular food. Offering food rewards rarely work, since they distract the child from the food you want them to try.
  • Use reasoning. Telling your child that if he eats his spinach, then it will give him more energy so he can play longer. If there’s an upside for him, he may be more open to accepting the food.
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