Learn to prepare a healthy meal for your toddler
This is the best time to introduce the family diet to your toddler: You can now allow your child to get used to a balanced diet as this is important to lay the foundation for your child’s future health.
Your child has his first teeth and can now chew solid foods. It would also like to eat at the family table now.
Introduce your child to a versatile and balanced diet gradually
Tips for a balanced diet
Give your child large servings of fruits and vegetables a day (250 to 300 grams). It will be best split into at least 5 portions per day as these supplies major nutrients for your child during its growing years.
You should already replace the broth and milk meal gradually with quality food such as bread, fruit, vegetables, meat and fish when your child reaches 10 months. By between 18 to 24 months, your child should have been able to try an abundance of food that you have placed on his plate. As your child will be really curious at this stage, use this time to introduce new things to it and at the same time introduce a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables with whole grains for its consumption.
You can set a good base for the healthy development of your child with a little love and patience, together with the following tips from experts.
1. Be a role model for eating
At eight to nine months, most children will look and reach out when they see adults eating. You can be a role model for your child: you will only be able to encourage your child to eat the spinach on the menu if you eat healthily yourself. Look closely at your eating habits and observe: does your daily meal provide sufficient vitamins and minerals? Eating more pizza than salads? Healthy eating is not only for your child but also for you. Do note that parent’s choices make a huge impact on the future life of their children.
2. Eat in a harmonious atmosphere
A main meal should be taken together as a family at the dinner table at least once a day. This is so that your child can focus and place his full attention on the food. Sources of interference such as televisions or mobile phones should be turned off. A ritual such as playing vibrant songs at the common table helps to provide a relaxed ambience. An analysis shows that children who have more family meals a week would have a better eating behaviour and normal weight when compared to those who don’t.
3. Establish a regular eating pattern for your child
The four milk meals and a meal of porridge a day diet will gradually change to three main meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner together with two smaller snacks. Regular mealtimes can help to develop a healthy routine for your child in the later life. Now that your child is taking in solid food, its need for fluid will increase to 600 - 700 millilitres per day and it should be consumed at any time that your child wishes to.
4. Introduce your child to new food consistently
Studies have shown that a new food will usually be accepted only when it had been offered between 7 to 8 times, for them to accept and find the food familiar and palatable. Unfortunately, humans do not establish a preference for fruits and vegetables. Unlike sweet and savoury food products, the genuine preference of taste from fruits and vegetables will only be learned by repetition.
To ensure that your child is eating vegetables, you could include the less popular fresh vegetable choices as a decorated snack or with various combinations. But remember that the eating habits that your child acquires now, can actually influence its future eating habits.
5. Be open to hunger and satiety/satiation signals given from your child
You can decide what type and how often food comes to the table. But your child should decide how much it should eat.
You can actually rely on his own ability to regulate hunger and satiation. Too much pressure will not work and it will in fact be counterproductive. Strong aversions to certain food can be developed. Be sensitive to your child on its signals of hunger and satiety, give him time to eat at its own pace and learn to estimate when it is full.
6. Support your child by eating food independently
Does your child like to eat with its hands? Do not worry as it will eventually learn the necessary motor skills to eat. Development can be very different for individual children. A baby at 11 months can already eat with a spoon but if your child prefers and still uses its hands to eat, let him be as they will outgrow this habit when they get older.
7. Dining: Cutlery, drinking cup are allowed
Design the “practice field” for your child during feeding experimentation. The dining area should be easy to clean and the bibs large enough. You can also put a washable mat under the high chair with a heavier dish with high sides to prevent it from falling on the floor. Smaller forks and spoons can be helpful when your child is learning to eat. Special learning kits will not be necessary.
Above all: adjustment in the transition to the family diet will be difficult. It is normal when your child do not put too much weight after the transition. Every child is different and will develop at different rates. However, you should consult a paediatrician if your child refuses general solid food, never reveals hunger, eats only in extreme distraction or constantly chokes on food and vomits.
CHECKLIST – Food that are unsuitable for toddlers
- Raw products that include sausage, milk and cheese, meat, eggs or fish should be cooked thoroughly before feeding.
- Foods that cause bloating or are spicy
- Caution: small hard foods like nuts, raisins , almonds, walnuts or carrot pieces should be chopped into really small pieces before your child consumes it (prevent choking or suffocation)
- Raw bean sprouts or thawed frozen berries may contain harmful germs, please heat/ cook before feeding child with the food
- Please ensure that the ready to eat products for your child is made specifically for children and contains no added sugar
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