Healthy Children - April 2016

Clean Your Plate!

“If you want dessert, you better clean your plate!” Does this sound familiar? Growing up in my household, this was a normal conversation I had with my parents. Especially when something I did not enjoy was being served for dinner. Parents know that feeding children can be tricky and feeding toddlers can be even trickier. Some day’s mealtime can be peaceful and pleasant and other day sit seems as if you are in a battle with your child. What many parents don’t realize is that one’s feeding style can increase their child’s chances of obesity. Who knew?

Research shows that parent who take a more forceful approach in their child’s feeding actually have a negative impact on the child’s eating behaviors. Strict parents tend to be more aggressive, demanding, and threatening during feeding. This makes mealtime unpleasant for the child. This form of feeding style teaches the child to ignore the signal in their bodies which tells them when they are hungry and when they are full. When parents restrict high fat and sugary foods, the child desires them even more. In turn, they will ignore the signal that is within them, and eat these types of foods when they are finally made available, even if they are not hungry.

On the other hand, there are parents who allow their child to eat whatever they want, whenever they want. Children who are left to themselves are unable to judge what foods they should eat, how much food they should eat and what foods are best for them. As a result, the child eats excessive calories with minimum nutritional value. This behavior can also lead to obesity.

There should always be a balance in the way we feed our children. Research shows that children actually respond better to encouragement and support from adults during mealtime. They need structure coupled with some freedom to choose.

Here are 6 Best Practices in Child Feeding:

  • Encourage, but don’t force child to try new food
  • Offer new foods at the beginning of a meal when your child is hungry
  • Introduce new foods one at a time
  • Allow your child to explore food smell, touch, and taste
  • Praise your child for favorable behaviors
  • Avoid Bribery