In order to pave a path to health for your child, and to avoid struggles with food down the road as much as possible, it’s important to teach kids about healthy eating when they’re young. There isn’t an age that’s too young to model healthy eating habits. From birth, you can and should guide your child the best food choices for excellent health. There are many ways to introduce your child to healthy foods, including these top 10 ways that are effective, creative, and fun:
1. Infuse Health into All Foods
From the moment your child starts eating food other than breast milk or formula, it’s important to infuse healthy into everything. Whether you’re making a morning cereal, sandwich for lunch, dinner dish, or yummy dessert, you can choose ingredients that will make that meal good and healthy. Opt for plants and use whole foods as much as possible. Cook with whole grains as often as you can and sweeten foods with healthy sweet ingredients like dates, unrefined coconut palm sugar, and nutrient-rich maple syrup.
2. Model Healthy Food Choices
When your child sees you eating healthy, it becomes what’s normal in your household. Don’t have separate rules for healthy eating for your child. As a family, choose healthy ingredients and prepare healthy meals. And, make healthy decisions when you go out to eat together.
3. Make Fruit Smoothies
Babies and kids love fruit smoothies, so whip up a healthy smoothie every day with fresh fruits and some nutritious nut milks. Favorite fruits in smoothies include oranges, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and peaches. Great milks for smoothie bases are organic soy milk, coconut milk, and almond milk. When purchasing fruit, remember to buy organic if your fruit of choice is listed on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.
4. Juice Fruits and Vegetables
Babies and kids can get many healthy vitamins and minerals from fresh-juiced fruits and vegetables. Some great options are juices and juice blends made with oranges, apples, pears, beets, dark leafy greens like spinach, and even carrots. If you can involve your children in the juicing process, they’ll start to see that it’s fun to make healthy food.
5. Choose Health-Focused Restaurants
If you go out to eat often, or even occasionally, make sure you eat at restaurants that serve plant-based organic foods. Being healthy is a lifestyle and it’s not contained to the home, so choose restaurants that are aligned with your values and goals of healthy eating.
6. Shop Together at the Farmers Market
Take your babies and kids shopping with you at the farmers market. Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds together, or in the very least, show them how you choose the freshest and healthiest foods for the family. This is a fun outing that can instill a love of healthy eating into a child.
7. Read a Book About Healthy Foods
You probably read your kids storybooks, so why not throw in a few tales about healthy eating. Some great books to teach kids about health foods include, How to Eat a Rainbow, by Ellie Bedford, V is for Vegan, by Ruby Roth, and More Blueberries! by Susan Musgrave.
8. Make Healthy Kid-Approved Foods
As much as you want to have your kids eat healthy foods, they’re still probably going to want to eat the fun comfort foods their friends are eating, such as cookies, chips, french fries, and hot dogs. This is okay, as long as you give your little ones healthy versions of these foods. You can make your own healthy sweet treats, potato chips, fries (including sweet potato fries), and veggie dogs using organic produce, healthy oils, and nutrient-rich vegan meats.
9. Use the 2-Bite Rule
It’s imperative that kids are taught to eat a variety of foods. Even though you can make healthy french fries, you certainly shouldn’t eat fries every day and exclude other foods. So, prepare a range of healthy foods for your child and require at least 2 bites of each one during a meal. This is a great way to introduce your child to healthy food while allowing enjoyment of other favorites.
10. Teach About Product Labels
As soon as your child starts making market or grocery store trips with you, take the time to teach about product labels. Examine them with your child, even before speaking age, and explain what you are looking for in terms of healthy ingredients. Then, discuss why you will not choose some foods based on the unhealthy ingredients in those foods. Every child should grown up knowing how to choose healthy foods based on product labels. Ideally, a child’s food will mostly not come from a package with a label.
Introduce Your Child to Healthy Foods Constantly and Consistently
Remember that it takes time and patience to introduce your child to healthy foods and to instill healthy food choices into a child. Just like it takes time and patience to teach a child that healthy product choices are important when it comes to what we put on our body. As you speak about health, bring safe baby shampoos and approved EWG baby lotions into the discussion. Keeping your family healthy all around is essential, and it’s our goal to help you do just that. You can always count on Baby Mantra to provide you with the best natural baby care products.