“Research shows toddlers who eat a wide variety of foods are more likely to carry those habits into adulthood, so it’s important to introduce and reinforce healthy eating habits from the time a child starts to eat solid foods,” saidCourtney Hines, KinderCare Learning Centers’registered dietitian. “In fact, the first twoyears of a child’s life are often referred to as ‘the golden window’ because this is when kids are most open to trying new foods and flavors. By encouragingvariety and healthy eating early in life, parents and familiescan dramatically reduce picky eating habits many toddlers and children develop over time while also helping their children develop balanced relationshipswith food they’ll carry with them into adulthood.”
Consider these tips and tricks totry at home with kids of all ages to buildhealthy eating habits and excitement around trying new foods.
When babiesareready for solid foods, be sure to exposethemto a wide variety of whole, unprocessed foods with varying flavors and textures. Startwith soft foods like mashed potatoes, avocados, cooked rice and bananas until your childrenareready for firmer solids.
Toddlerswho turns up their noses at veggies or fruit may be more open-minded if they’re an active participant in mealtime prep. Ask your childrento pick one new fruit or vegetable andagree that you’ll both taste it. Asking your children to describe the appearance, texture, taste and smell of the foodcan also be a fun way to build vocabulary.
Around the 2- or 3-year mark, children become interested in investigating and learning. Engagetheir natural curiosityin the world around them by planting a small vegetable, fruit or herb garden for your tiny chefs to tend to ─ it can be as simple as a windowsill garden. Gardening helps children understand where healthy, nutritious foods come from. Plus, children are more likely to eat what they’ve grown, which means more fruit and veggies in their diets.