Is there something in your day-to-day life that you can always count on? Something you do each day without fail? Mine starts right when I start my day—having my morning coffee, of course. The second I hop out of bed, I’m throwing in the coffee grounds. I sip my coffee as I prepare for my day—the calm before the storm. I take comfort in my peaceful morning start each day; my morning routine is what sets my day in motion and makes me feel more prepared for what’s ahead.
Routines also give babies a similar sense of comfort and security. They are taking in the world as it comes, which can be overwhelming. Routines give children an opportunity to know what’s coming and take comfort in its arrival. ParentPal provides resources for activities throughout the day that allow parents to establish and stick with routines for their little ones. Having a daily routine is necessary for positive development in children. And, part of that daily routine includes healthy eating habits.
Healthy eating habits are crucial to good health throughout our lives. I’m often reminded of the saying, “You only get one body, take care of it.” It’s critical to instill this sort of mentality in young ones early in life. Good nutrition and health habits are extremely important—a child’s experiences and attitudes he or she forms early on will affect future eating habits. Developing healthy eating habits at a young age can lessen the chances of developing chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even some cancers. Not only that, healthy eating habits help children maintain a positive sense of wellbeing and self-confidence.
By modeling healthy practices and making eating a pleasurable experience, you are laying the groundwork for nutritious and enjoyable eating for the rest of your child’s life. Consider these strategies and tips to develop positive eating habits.
- Set up a snack and meal schedule. Setting up a meal and snack schedule is important for children to get the proper nutrition they need while forming a sense of positive eating habits.
- Maintain a set of rules during mealtime. Once your little ones are old enough, make it a point to eat at least one meal a day as a family. This helps to create family unity.
- Keep unhealthy and unprocessed food out of the house while providing plenty of fruits and vegetables. Limiting access to unhealthy foods can create a healthy environment. Instead, keep several options of fruits and vegetables that your little one can choose from. No matter what they choose, it’ll be positive for their health.
- Encourage relaxed, friendly conversations. Talk together during mealtimes about familiar topics of interest to your child, such as the taste, texture, and smell of the food he or she is eating, activities you did earlier in the day, and plans for the afternoon. Encourage your little one to let you know what he or she wants and needs during mealtimes.
- Encourage new foods. Encourage your little one to try new foods, but don’t force him or her to eat something he or she doesn’t want. Talk about new foods, serve them in attractive ways, and taste everything yourself. Sometimes, children eat just one or two foods for a period of time. By offering nutritious choices, your child gets the nutrients they need over time, even if it’s not at every meal.
- Allow your child to control the quantity of food he or she eats. Don’t expect your little one to eat everything on their plate. You might even involve your child in setting the portion side. Remember, avoid using food as a reward or punishment.
- Involve children in the buying and making process. Having children involved in buying the ingredients and cooking their meals and snacks gives them a sense of ownership over what they’re eating. Therefore, they may feel more inclined to eat what they’ve created.
- Offer lots of water. Sufficient water intake is key to healthy development. Water helps to energize the body while also improving digestion. A child’s water needs will increase as they grow older. Avoid buying sugary drinks so your child can stick to water consumption.
While there are several ways to incorporate healthy eating into your little one’s life, these are just some of the tips to keep in mind.
Please remember that your routines are going to evolve as your little one grows. It still remains, however, that a routine helps you lead a consistently healthy life. Customize your own daily routines with our downloadable Daily Routines List!