This post was brought to you by Kandoo. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.
The other day at the farm stand Jude exclaimed, “Mom! Kale! Can we get some?” The woman next to us was shocked, and I was beaming with pride. Jude is an amazing eater. He is adventurous and loves nutritious food. Some of this is surely nature, but so far his little brother is following in his footsteps, and I can’t help but believe that at least some of this healthy behavior is nurture. I thought I'd share how we approach food in the hopes that a few of these tips make feeding your little ones stress free. I should also note that I learned most of these tips from my own mother who raised three very different girls who all love healthy food. As with all parenting advice, try what feels right to you and ignore the rest; I’m pretty sure if you simply follow tip number three, everything will work out just fine. Oh, and if you struggle to get your kiddo to wash up when it's time to eat, my bonus tip is for you!
1. Make Your Own Baby Food. Homemade baby food isn't just cheaper and often healthier, it also helps baby learn how to be a healthy eater. Homemade baby food tastes so much more like grown-up food that it helps train your little one's taste buds. This makes for an easier and often swifter transition to eating the same food as the rest of the family.
2. Grow A Garden. Growing your own vegetables is so fun, and it teaches your kids where healthy food comes from. It’s hard to resist trying a vegetable that you helped grow and harvest! If growing a garden isn't an option, a trip to the farmers market can have a similar effect. When you meet the farmer who grew your broccoli, it makes it much more appealing.
3. Model Healthy Behavior. Kids are such sponges and learn just about everything by example. Sitting down to eat as many meals as possible together really helps teach kids about healthy eating. When they see you eating and enjoying your vegetables, they are much more likely to do the same!
4. Let Them Cook. There was a time when Jude didn't want to eat salad, that is until it became his job to prepare it. When kids get to take ownership of their meals they can't help but try the results of their hard work. I also encourage a lot of sampling and tasting as we cook.
5. Try the One Bite Rule. They don’t have to like it, they just have to try it. It takes many tries before your tastebuds become accustomed to a new and different flavor. Trying just one bite isn’t torturous, and with enough tries, one bite might just turn into two or three or four!
6. Make it Tasty. The ranch that your child dips his carrot into does not negate the health benefits of the carrot. In fact, homemade dips and sauces can add nutritional value to veggies and proteins, all the while, making them more appealing to kids. Make sure that the food you prepare is well seasoned and not overcooked. Help your kid learn that healthy food is delicious food.
7. Change Preparations. Jude loves raw carrots but doesn't care for cooked ones. Try presenting healthy food in as many different ways as often as possible; raw, steamed, roasted, etc. You can also encourage your child to eat a healthy item by introducing it with something they really like. Try adding spinach to pizza or corn to tacos.
8. Don't Barter. Power struggles at meal time aren't fun for anyone. When you plead, beg, or promise dessert, you are creating an opening for negotiation. Healthy eating is non-negotiable. Do your best to make it fun and tasty, but beyond that, a healthy meal is a reward in and of itself. Kids vibe off this casual, "this is what we do" attitude.
9. Avoid Making Special Meals. If your kiddo knows they will be served a special meal, they don’t really have any incentive to try what you’ve made for the family. Instead of making something special, try deconstructing the meal a bit, leaving the “undesirable” bit on the side. That way they can try their one bite and still have something to fill their belly. A full belly is another thing to consider. You want to be sure that your little one is actually hungry at meal time. This might mean skipping or scaling back on snacks.
10. Tell a Story. Teach your child about healthy foods in terms they understand. For example, you could explain that ninjas have to eat lots of carrots, so that they can see well in the dark. There are also lots of great children’s books that teach about healthy eating, my favorite one is Bread and Jam For Francis.
11. Make Washing Up Fun! One big hurdle we have to healthy eating is getting our active little ones to wash up and come sit at the table. Washing hands before eating is a must, but Jude never wanted to stop playing and wash up. To make the process more fun, we got a special kids soap. The Kandoo Foaming Hand Soap has cool scents and a fun bright color that makes hand washing much more enticing. So far, it's worked like a charm. Before meal time, break out the fun Kandoo foam soap, and they’ll be all washed up and ready eat in no time! Click here to get a coupon.
This post was brought to you by Kandoo. As always, all opinions and content are my own. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.