With the school year getting ready to kick off yet again, it is important to get the kids back into the swing of healthy eating after a summer filled with BBQ’s, play dates, birthday parties, and vacation meals. Here are a few tips to make getting those fruits and veggies back into the routine less stressful and more enjoyable!
Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.
Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for kids about the importance of food. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar, and salt. Save dining out for special occasions.
Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adults to shop for groceries, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It’s also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and (for older children) how to read food labels.
Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, chips, or cookies.
Limit portion sizes. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.
Are you at that stage where you are starting to question when/if you should begin the transition to solid foods with your little one? If so, here are a few tips!
Can your infant hold their head up? Your baby should be able to sit in a high chair, feeding seat, or infant seat with good head control.
Does he open his mouth when food comes his way? Babies may be ready if they watch you eating, reach for your food, and seem eager to be fed.
Can she move food from a spoon into her throat? If you offer a spoon of rice cereal and she pushes it out of her mouth and it dribbles onto her chin, she may not have the ability to move it to the back of her mouth to swallow it. It’s normal.
Remember, she’s never had anything thicker than breast milk or formula before, and this may take some getting used to. Try diluting it the first few times, then gradually thicken the texture. You may also want to wait a week or two and try again.
Is he big enough? Generally, when infants double their birth weight (typically at about 4 months) and weigh about 13 pounds or more, they may be ready for solid foods.
Once your baby learns to eat one food, gradually give him other foods. Give your baby one new food at a time, and wait at least 2 to 3 days before starting another. After each new food, watch for any allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting. If any of these occur, stop using the new food and consult with your child’s doctor.
Generally, meats and vegetables contain more nutrients per serving than fruits or cereals. Many pediatricians recommend against giving eggs and fish in the first year of life because of allergic reactions, but there is no evidence that introducing these nutrient-dense foods after 4 to 6 months of age determines whether your baby will be allergic to them.
Have you started adding purees into the mix or are you not quite there yet? Either way, here are a few tips on when and how to start adding more texture into the food.
As a general rule, though, it’s a good idea to introduce some texture into your baby’s food once he has been enjoying pureed foods for around 3 weeks, which usually takes place around 7 months. Some babies, particularly those that are breastfed, don’t start solid foods until towards the end of their first year. In this case, you can often dispense with pureed foods altogether, as these babies tend to be ready to deal with textured foods from the outset.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO GIVE BABY MORE TEXTURED FOODS?
If you give your baby only pureed food for an extended period of time, you may find that he becomes unwilling to accept lumpier textures and baby feeding problems may develop.
Learning to chew, either with teeth or gums ,is an important part of your baby’s development because:
it strengthens the jaw muscles
it helps with the development of speech
it helps ensure healthy teeth
it enables him to enjoy finger foods and other foods that the rest of the family are eating.
HOW TO START ADDING TEXTURE
Start by thickening baby’s purees by adding cereal or even mashed egg yolk. Although thicker, the puree should still be smooth. This allows your baby the opportunity to become accustomed to a “heavier” type of food before he has to deal with actual lumps.
Next, try using a food mill to grind soft fruits or vegetables which will give you a texture that is only slightly lumpy.
You can also try grating a peeled apple and adding this to a smooth base, such as yogurt.
Another good method is to puree half of your baby’s food and grind the other half.
Once baby is happy with these foods, you can move on to mashing food and, finally, chopping it.