Introducing New Food to Your Little Ones
What our little ones eat matters. Developing healthy eating behaviors is a critical part of development as our children grow from babies throughout childhood. Parents play a critical role in introducing foods as well as role modeling healthy eating habits. Here are a few tips on introducing new foods to the little ones in your life.
Tip #1: What Mom Eats Matters:
Babies start tasting food as early as in the womb. Researchers have found that a baby’s sensory system is able to pick up on the flavor of foods from the mother’s diet that travels through the mother’s bloodstream and into the amniotic fluid. Pregnancy is an important time for women to focus on improving upon dietary habits and incorporating a variety of nutritious foods to not only help promote healthy growth of the baby but also to expose him or her to various flavors of food.
Tip #2: Breastmilk Introduces New Flavors
Typically, women are focused on eating a healthy diet during pregnancy, but postpartum nutrition is just as important. Women that choose to breastfeed actually can expose the baby to new flavors of food through breast milk. Foods like garlic, onion, and various spices give breast milk a distinct flavor which they baby may or may not prefer. Focusing on including a variety of foods and a diet rich in various fruits and vegetables is important and also helps maximize the nutritional content of the breast milk.
Tip #3: Focus on Variety
When it is time to start introducing solids to little ones, variety is key. Don’t get stuck in a rut by offering the same food choices over and over. The more exposure children have to different types of food the more inclined they will be in the future to have a wide variety of foods that they might accept and enjoy at mealtimes.
Tip #4: Try, Try, Again
It can take children up to ten times to accept new food choices. Don’t give up if they won’t try a food that is offered, simply reintroduce that food choice at another time. Acceptance of new food choices is often a result of familiarity and exposure.
Tip #5: Stay Calm for a Stress-Free Meal
Creating a calm and stress-free eating environment is important for both parents and children. Focus on role-modeling healthy food habits and let your little ones decide what they want to eat at the meal and how much they want to eat at a meal. The role of the parent should simply be to offer a variety of nutritious foods at each mealtime to cultivate healthy eating habits.