Feeding toddlers and preschoolers is not an easy task. Whether you are handling a picky eater, or simply just pressed for time, making sure that your toddler eats healthy meals can be a challenge.
Sometimes, mealtimes might even end in a verbal food fight!
Of course, we as parents are concerned. After all, with the rising levels of diabetes among children, it is natural for us to take necessary actions to curb this in our own families.
Teaching a child to make healthy food choices starts early, from toddler-age.
Research shows that children form food preferences during their preschooling years. As such, if bad habits are picked up, it will be harder to change their mindset (and taste buds!) in the later years.
Read on to find out how you can raise a healthy eater!
- Avoid the total ban of junk food
Rather than an outright ban, portion control should be done.
Restricting a certain type of food might backfire because he/she might overeat once that particular food becomes available outside of the home.
- Offer Healthier Alternatives
Of course, no one can completely refrain from junk food.
Does your child love fries? Make your own by slicing fresh potatoes, sprinkling some seasoning and baking them in the oven, instead of frying!
Getting the whole family involved in the kitchen can double up as a fun, cookery activity for the on weekends.
Inject some fun by crafting a “mini garden” (Kueh Pie Tee). You can add the “soil” (seasoned turnip), “fertilizer (hard boild eggs), “seeds” (crushed peanuts) and garnish with the “harvest” (broccoli) on top!
Who says healthy eating is boring?
- Be a Good Role Model
Demonstrating healthy eating habits sends a clear message that good health is important to your family.
As with every habit, preschoolers are impressionable. They tend to pick up on the adults’ actions and behaviours. So, if you wrinkle your nose at the sight of vegetables, expect your preschooler to do the same.
Instead, demonstrate by at least trying a bite of your least favourite vegetable. By doing so, your child will observe your reaction and action of eating a food that you dislike.
In turn, he will be more inclined to sample his vegetables. Who knows, he might even grow to like it!
- Recognise the Signals
Infants and toddlers will know that they are hungry or full, and will alert us parents using actions and sounds.
Yet at times, preschoolers might use the word “hungry” to indicate that they are bored, or even sad. By doing so, they will establish a connection between food and feelings, and thus, might lead to developing emotional eating habits.
The result? Over-eating, which increase their risk to become overweight or obese.
- Give them a choice
Get the children involved in the preparation process by bringing them to the supermarket to choose and pick up (healthy!) groceries up together. By allowing them to take part in the preparation process, it piques their interests to taste their “harvest” once the cooking is done.
The experiential and sensory learning about food will certainly get preschoolers to explore food and develop new preferences and interests about healthier food options.
To find out more about Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, and our healthy menu options, schedule a school tour with us!
About the Expert:
In her role as Cluster Principal at Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, Xaviera is involved in branding management, and all operational matters, including service assurance and adherence to licensing regulations for all centres. With a degree in Early Childhood Education (Honours) and a Diploma in Early Childhood Education (Leadership), Xaviera also serves a mentorship role to all principals at Kiddiwinkie.
As an advocate for pre-school education, Xaviera believes that education should always be relevant to a child’s existence; constantly evolving to meet future challenges.