One of the most common questions that parents want to know when they start feeding their child is how can I ensure that they grow up to enjoy a wide range of foods. In a recent survey we found that 80% of Mums are concerned about their child growing up to be a fussy eater.
What is it that influences our child’s food preferences?
This may seem a simple question but there is much more to this than you may expect. There are numerous factors that influence how we develop our relationship with food and some of these factors start even before our baby is born.
- What we have eaten and enjoyed during the pregnancy;
- How our baby has been fed post birth;
- How our baby has been weaned onto solid foods; and
- To a lesser degree, our childhood and adult eating environment.
It is a complex entanglement of physical, mental, social and emotional influences on our life that determine how our babies continue to develop their relationship with food.
There are however many ways that you can influence your baby’s long term eating habits in a positive way by just considering the following….
- Do I offer a wide range of foods at mealtimes?
- Exposing your child to foods with a variety of colours, textures and flavours improved the likelihood of them accepting more foods in the future
- Do I allow my child to look, feel and taste different foods regularly?
- It is easy to stop children from ‘messing with food’ but actually it helps them to become familiar and accept different types of food much more easily
- Do I involve my child in the preparation and cooking of meals?
- The more that children are involved in touching, smelling, tasting and preparing different foods the more likely they are to feel comfortable exploring and trying new foods
- How do I respond when my child doesn’t like a food or refuses to try new foods?
- It is easy to become anxious about this and use all sorts of tactics to encourage your child to eat different foods. There are many practical tips that can be given to help with this but the main thing to do is to relax and trust that your child may not like the food now but it doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future.
The way we interact at mealtimes and the impact this has on our relationship with food has been underestimated due to lack of research, but we are now starting to understand the complex biological, emotional, and sociological reasons why we choose certain foods and how the environment in which we eat them even affects how our bodies metabolise the food.
To find out more about how to prevent fussy eating or learn practical ways that you can influence your child’s relationship with food why not join our ‘Raising Confident Little Eaters’ online course.
Raising Confident Eaters Online Course
To find out more about how to prevent fussy eating or learn practical ways that you can influence your child’s relationship with food, why not join our ‘Raising Confident Eaters' online course. Next course starts on Tuesday 15th JuneTell me more