An energy powerhouse, preschoolers seem tireless. They run and play but do not appear to consume a great deal of food. Their scant eating habits makes it even more important for a parent to provide healthy, nutritious food choices throughout the day for their child. Keeping the cabinets and refrigerator stocked with health-conscious snacks will help set up good eating routines and habits that the child will take into adulthood.
1) Rid the cabinets of junk food
Reducing the junk food in the house will help eliminate the temptation. If a child does not see the food sitting around he will not think about cookies, donuts or other goodies. He will choose from the healthy food choices in front of him when he gets hungry.
2) Eat together
Sitting down at a table each evening with your preschooler makes food consumption a social adventure. By focusing the activity away from the food and more on the fun of family together time there is less importance on what is actually for dinner. The child will look forward to the together time over the food consumption. This is especially true for a child of working parents. The family dinner experience allows the child to have uninterrupted daily time with mom and dad.
3) Have fun
Preschoolers are notorious for being messy and wanting to have fun. Make meals together a happy experience. Do not expect your child to follow strict etiquette rules. Remember to just have fun together. Diverting the focus from the food helps to form the child’s mind to not be food centered which can help reduce the danger of consuming food later in life to fill an emotional void which can lead to obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle.
5) Be an example
Children emulate their parents. If you eat healthy and take care of yourself the odds are good that the child will also focus on a healthy life style. Parents strive to be an moral example for their children but often lack setting an example in the health department.
6) Grazing is O.K.
Parents worry that a child’s appetite will be spoiled by snacking throughout the day. Many parents deny their child that late day snack to avoid spoiling their dinner appetite. This can drive the child be become more focused on food at dinner. The focus of food should be removed to help form healthy eating habits later in life. Allow the child to have small, nutritious snacks throughout the day. Never underestimate the benefits of a healthy snack which can make the need for a huge dinner obsolete. If a child desires a few carrot sticks or an apple late in the day let him have one and rejoice in the nutritious benefits your little one is garnering from the tasty tidbit.
7) Never force a child to eat
Forcing a child to finish its dinner when he is already full will create unhealthy eating habits later in life that can lead to obesity. Children should only eat when hungry. Let your child be the true judge of how much food is enough. Overfeeding a child is not only physically harmful but also mentally threatening.
8) New foods
Introduce a new food several times per week at dinner time. Choose a rare vegetable or make a new dish. Adding variety during the week will help encourage your child to accept different and new foods. This will help reduce the preschoolers notorious picky eating habits.
Teaching a preschooler good eating habits early in life will set the perfect foundation for a healthy lifestyle later in life. With the fast rise in obesity, especially childhood obesity, in the United States parents should always be mindful of what they feed their child and how they instill the importance of nutrition into the child’s mind.