12 tactics to “grow” a healthy eater

Free yourself of fussy feeder torment when you get your tot to tuck into nutritious nosh with these top tips.

Make family mealtimes with your mini-muncher enjoyable and he’s more likely to eat well. So, don’t argue, nag, frown and prod him constantly to finish his meal or you might just ruin your plan to nurture bubba into a healthy eater! Advises Jaclyn Reutens, dietitian at Aptima Nutrition, “Children are quick to associate food with experiences. An unpleasant mealtime could eliminate a certain food for an extended period of time.”

Conversely, creating a positive eating experience for your tot will boost their chances of picking up good eating habits. That said, frustration-free mealtimes are easier said than done, especially if your mini-muncher’s picky about his food! So, try these tips to minimise fussy feeding:

1) Begin with the right foods When you start weaning your child, begin with foods that are least likely to cause allergies such as rice-based foods, as well as fruits and veggies.

Reutens suggests rice cereal, rice cakes, soft bread, pasteurised plain unsweetened yoghurt and small cubes of cheese like ricotta. Fresh fruit to offer include watermelon, papaya, honeydew, soft pears, peaches, and avocado in small pieces or in a purée. Note that milk should still the mainstay of their diet right up till they are a year old!

When your tot feels good about his eating practices, he’s more likely to repeat what he is doing.

2) Pair new foods with old favourites If bubba’s a fan of macaroni and cheese, include several pieces of broccoli the next time you serve it, Reutens suggests. But when your little one complains of hunger, this is when you serve only new foods, she adds.                                                                                                                     

3) Start small It can get rather intimidating for your tot when he is greeted with large servings of food items that he has never seen before — and it’ll be a waste if he doesn’t like them. Offer small servings and then gradually increase the portion sizes, Reutens adds.

4) Involve them in prepping their meals To take the stress out of eating, turn food prep into a bonding activity. Reutens notes, “[Children] are more eager to eat what they have prepared.” Involve junior in shopping for ingredients ― at the supermarket, introduce them to the wide variety of veggies and products on sale.

5) Give foods fun nicknames Try cheeky chicken patties, power-packed peas or smartie spinach, Reutens says. Plating food attractively will also invite your offspring to interact with his food.

More killer strategies to try when you read on…