8 Tips to Raising a Well-Rounded Eater Getting your child to eat right isnít always an easy task. Use these eight tips to put them on the path to better eating. BY NANCY TRINGALI PIHO
Getting your kids to eat well early on will serve them well for a lifetime.
If you and your spouse are the proud parents of an infant or toddler, you may not have encountered picky eating, yetÖ be thankful, itís not always pretty!
Virtually every young child goes through some level of picky eating at one time or another. Parents that have kids who turn out to be "good eaters" will tell you the key to successfully navigating these stages is to put firm and healthful eating habits in place from the beginning, and then stick to them, even when the going gets tough.
So if you and your spouse want to raise children who know the difference between chicken nuggets and Chicken Cordon Bleu or kids that donít put up a fight every time a new dish or a vegetable is set before them, start thinking now while their pallet is fresh. Itís not too late to put these eight quick tips in place:
1. Sit down! Now is the time to teach your kids that meals play an important role in their day. Make breakfast, lunch and dinner a definite sit-down-to-eat occasion, even if itís just for 10 or 15 minutes at a time.
2. Doesnít this look good? Talk it up! Comment on the yummy smells from the oven, or how pretty and juicy the steak looks. Young children "eat with their eyes" just like adults do.
3. Itís a dinner, not a diner! That means, no short order cooking! From their earliest eating days, children can and should eat what everyone else at the table is eating.
4. Focus on the whole meal. If youíre serving chicken, peas and rice for dinner, then your child should have chicken, peas and rice on their plate, too. What if they scarf down the rice and want more? Make them wait until they have a bite or two of the rest of the items in the meal.
5. Spice it up. Donít be afraid to let your child sample spicier dishes, like those found in Indian or Mexican cuisines. If itís really too hot, stir a little milk or sour cream into their portion, so that they still get the flavor of the dish without the full effect of the heat.
6. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If at first they dislike spinach or Brussels sprouts or broccoli, try, try again. Researchers have found that up to 15 separate introductions of a food may be required before a child will be accepting of it. Wait several days or weeks, but donít drop the offending item out of the menu entirely.
7. Pour out the juice. Kiddie beverages all have one thing in common: they are sweet to the taste. Donít start your little one off believing that drinks have to be sweet to taste good. Stick to plain milk and water.
8. And nix the other kiddie products. If itís a food product made for and marketed to kids, chances are itís going to be inferior in taste and flavor to comparable adult products. Avoid these and you will be way ahead in the game of preventing picky eating.
Nancy Piho is the author of "My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything." Nancy is a public speaker, and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows as a spokesperson for products and events. Nancy lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two boys, who love to eat octopus and just about everything else. For more information visit www.nancypiho.com.