From Age zero to two: How do you teach your child to eat right before it’s too late?

Did you know that the first 1,000 days of a child’s life are critical for his or her health and quality of life in the future? It’s all about good nutrition in the first place. Here’s how to stick to good eating habits and why you should do it in the first place.

The “1000 days rule”.

The first 1000 days of life are nine months of pregnancy and the first two years of life. It is during this period that the foundation is laid for the full development and good health of the child. Of course, its interaction with the mother and her emotional state is important, but equally important is the mother’s nutrition during pregnancy and lactation. After all, up to six months to a year, the baby gets all the necessary substances from the mother’s milk and this is its only food. What and how it is offered afterwards, when its digestive system is ready for other foods, determines its future eating behavior and habits. Parents play a decisive role in shaping food preferences, of course, as they are the ones who choose the food for the child.

It is worth bearing in mind that the baby’s taste buds start to work when he is still in the womb, around the 30th week of pregnancy. So his first taste “memories” will be related to what his mother ate during this period – he tastes the amniotic fluid. And this will also determine his preference for sweet, sour or salty tastes in the future.

Factors that influence the formation of eating habits

First complementary food

During the first years of life, it is important to introduce your baby to the “basic” tastes that will later form the basis of a healthy diet: vegetables, cereals, meat, fish and dairy products. But acquaintance with the products of industrial production – candy, sausages, fast food – is worth postponing for a later period.

Timing of the inclusion in the child’s diet first complementary food can help determine the pediatrician. This is usually from six months to a year. When your baby is ready, you can slowly begin to introduce it to the new products: start with vegetables, not fruits (with the sweet taste it is better to get acquainted with later). But the relationship may not work the first time – getting used to a new food can only ‘work’ 11-13 times!

Get your child used to eating fish as early as possible. Cod, saffron cod, whiting, hake, salmon, sea bass – varieties that can be introduced into complementary feeding from 10-11 months. Children under one year of age are offered fish mash, and later on small pieces in boiled form or, for instance, fish soup. Fish is not only desired in children’s food, it is also a component of a healthy diet, especially in view of the healthy omega-3 fats. Fish oil can be included. It is important that it is natural (not to be confused with synthesized omega-3s) and in liquid form. 

Parenting tactics when feeding children

Many children are reluctant to eat unfamiliar foods and products, so something new is better offered in small portions. But feeding your child fraudulently, passing one food off as another, is not a good idea.

It is not desirable to distract the baby’s attention when feeding by watching cartoons or by using toys. It is important that your baby sees and understands WHAT she is eating so that her digestive juices are properly produced and digestion is properly initiated.

Rewarding your child for eating enough food that they do not like or forcing them to eat is not welcome. This further provokes aversion to the food.

On the other hand, children are happy to replicate the eating behavior of adults and peers – set them an example by eating right. Your child will reach for your plate.

Cook with your child

Advertising, media and society

Limit your child’s exposure to unhealthy food advertisements on television and the internet. These commercials have been proven to affect the preferences of children from 2 years of age onwards! Early visits to supermarkets and shopping centers can also provoke interest in snacks, sweets and fast food – anything unhealthy is usually in very bright and attractive packaging.

Taste of food

On the other hand, it’s perfectly normal for a child not to like the taste of a certain product, the way a grandma cooks, or simply to have no appetite – they haven’t “worked up” an appetite and haven’t had time to get hungry. Try to reduce the size and calorie content of portions and move and play with your baby more.

Kindergarten meals may also be unpalatable, so don’t scold your child if they refuse to eat a particular dish. See if there is a menu to choose from beforehand.

Educate the mind

A child’s eating habits are related to the choice of food they prefer, the amount they eat, the time they spend at the table and unsystematic snacking. Eating disorders can lead to health problems, but if parents monitor these factors from infancy, problems can be avoided.

Why it is important to introduce the child to new foods on a regular basis

Expanding the gastronomic outlook, developing taste buds and forming new neural connections,

to maximize the variety of substances the body needs to grow and function properly,

a socio-psychological factor, the opportunity to eat a variety of foods is a pleasure.

A child’s diet should necessarily contain proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. The diet should be varied: meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, vegetables, fruit and cereals should be on the menu.

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Author: Paige Jones

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Healthy Eating, Parenting

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