Healthy Habits: Eating Habits
Don’t allow your child to eat while watching television or playing. If your child eats while “vegging out” in front of the TV or while “surfing the Net,” then eating will become a habit and not a response to hunger. Your child can take on extra calories, which add extra weight and can start a child on the “slippery slope” to obesity.
Milestones: Table Manners
At age 4, your child should be ready to learn table manners. Everyone in the family plays a part in the instruction of mealtime manners.
Do…sit together at the table as often as possible and include your child in the meal preparation. Do use mealtimes to discuss pleasant topics that include your child, and let your child select new foods or recipes. Always model good mealtime manners.
Don’t…read the paper, allow toys at the table, or have the TV on. Don’t give your child meal preparation jobs that are too hard or take too long. Don’t argue or use mealtime for lectures or personal criticism. Don’t serve large portions of new foods or expect your child to do as you say and not as you do.
Bright Futures: Nutrition
Healthy Habits: Snacking
Use snacks to satisfy hunger, not as treats or rewards. Offer nutritious snacks 1-2 hours before meals. If meals are more than four hours apart, include some protein and fat to satisfy hungry appetites.
Health Alert: Choking Hazards
To reduce the risk of your child choking, post a list for family, friends, and sitters of foods that are choking risks and are not to be given to your child. Insist that your child sit at the table to eat – no eating while running or playing. Don’t allow tickling during mealtimes and teach your child not to talk while eating. Don’t give chewing gum to a child under 6 years of age. Make sure anyone caring for your child knows what to do if your child chokes.
Questions & Answers
Q: How can I get my finicky eater to eat?
A: Try these ideas. Include your child in grocery shopping and food preparation. Be patient with your child and keep mealtimes pleasant. Offer nutritionally acceptable choices and role model good eating behaviors such as drinking milk at meals. Be sure to praise your child for tasting new foods. If your child refuses a new food, offer the food again in a few weeks. (Young children are discovering new foods and flavors. One study showed a new food must be offered an average of 10 times before it is accepted.)