It can be overwhelming to think about the many challenges of feeding small children. They often have trouble sitting still, they may refuse certain foods, and there are lots of safety considerations to keep in mind while they’re eating.
Fortunately, with proper preparation and a few simple tips and tricks, you can ensure that mealtimes are safe, enjoyable experiences for everyone at the table.
Here are some key safety guidelines as well as helpful advice on getting your kids to eat healthier meals. Whether you’re a first-time parent or just looking for refreshers on mealtime safety for your little ones, we hope our guide serves as a useful resource.
Highly Nutritious Food
Selecting nutrient-rich, healthy food options is key for your child’s growth and development. Choose foods that provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and healthy fats.
Whenever possible, offer Organic milk for newborns and toddlers. This is especially important for babies who are just starting solids. Additionally, make sure to avoid serving processed, sugary snacks and sodas. And, if you’re serving food that’s been cooked in the microwave, be sure to stir and check it for hot spots before giving it to your child.
Appropriate Portion Sizes
It can be tempting to pressure your child into finishing their meal, but it’s important to remember that all children are different when it comes to portion sizes.
Generally speaking, infants should consume 2-4 tablespoons of food per feeding while preschoolers may need up to one full cup. Watch for signs of fullness – such as turning away from the plate or pushing food around with a spoon – and end the meal when they give those signals. And whatever you do, don’t force-feed them. Maybe, instead, offer them a healthy snack if they’re still hungry later.
It’s essential to remember that children are at risk for choking on certain foods, so it’s important to be mindful of the size and type of food that you serve them.
Foods like popcorn, hot dogs, grapes, nuts, and hard candy should all be cut into small pieces or avoided altogether until your child is old enough to chew properly.
Additionally, never leave young children alone with food – make sure an adult is present to supervise feedings at all times. And, of course, make sure that they don’t play with toys while they’re eating.
Practice Good Hygiene
Make sure that you and your child practice good hygiene before and during meals. This means washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before handling food, preparing dishes properly according to safety guidelines, and cleaning up spills immediately.
Also, be aware of any potential food allergies your child may have so that you can avoid serving those items. Small kids also tend to be messy eaters, so it’s important to have plenty of paper towels, bibs, and/or clothing protectors on hand. And, if you’re using dishes or utensils that have been in the dishwasher, be sure to double-check them for any remaining shards of broken glass.
You should also consider teaching your child basic mealtime etiquette from an early age. This will help them learn how to behave properly at the dinner table – like using good manners and not playing with their food or talking too loudly.
Additionally, try to encourage them to eat without distractions (e.g., TV, phones) as this can help them focus more on what they’re eating and better enjoy mealtimes in general. For example, you can try making mealtimes family times where everyone sits down together to enjoy their meal.
Be a Good Role Model
Be sure to lead by example and model healthy eating habits for your children. This means avoiding snacking on unhealthy foods or overeating in front of them. Instead, focus on making balanced meals that everyone can enjoy together.
Additionally, you should show your child the importance of positive body image and self-acceptance – this will help teach them how to make nutritious choices without feeling bad about their physical appearance.
Maybe, every once in a while, you can also make healthy meals with your children and involve them in the cooking process – this will not only help them learn about nutrition but also provide fun bonding experiences.
Feeding your child can be both healthy and enjoyable if you follow the right tips and guidelines. Be sure to consider age-appropriate portion sizes, watch out for choking hazards, practice good hygiene, teach mealtime etiquette, and model healthy habits. With a little bit of effort on your part, mealtimes can be a chance for your family to spend quality time together while also making sure that everyone stays nourished and happy.