Nutrition · Parenting

Build healthy eating habits for your little one

Child sitting in highchair eating spaghetti that has gotten all over their head, face, hands

Imagine the last meal you had with a friend – there was good conversation, eye contact and maybe even a few laughs.  No one was stressed about how much the other person ate.  Everyone was relaxed and enjoying sharing the time together.  Isn’t this what we want for our families too?

Build healthy eating habits for your family by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. How do we create a relaxed and enjoyable eating environment?

    • Eat meals together
      Eating meals together is one of the recommendations of the new Canada’s Food Guide. By eating meals together parents and their children can enjoy quality time together. From around 6 months you can offer your baby some of the same foods you and your family are eating.
    • Ensure no distractions during mealtime
      Part of a relaxed and enjoyable eating environment is avoiding distractions during meals. No one generally says that their ideal meal is eaten in front of the television, using an electronic/mobile device.  We are not being mindful of our eating habits when we watching television and engage in other distractions during meal time.
    • Talk about thingsTalk about the colours and shapes of the food you are eating such as yellow mangoes, and green broccoli that look like little trees. Talk about what you would like to do after lunch.  Talk about your dream vacation. We are teaching them that meal time is an enjoyable social experience.
  1. Who is in charge of how much we eat?

Everyone has experienced the feeling of eating too much at a meal.  Everyone has days, when they are just not as hungry. Your baby is the same. Even 6 month old babies show us they are not hungry by closing their mouths or turning their heads that they do not want anymore. Learn more about feeding cues and feeding relationships by watching this video: Trust Me, Trust My Tummy explaining the relationship with food.

  • Prepare for mess
    Mealtime with young children can be messy! Part of the learning process for 6 month old babies is messy mealtimes. Offering them safe finger foods and encouraging them to self-feed is part of their developmental and experimental process. They are practicing their fine motor skills when they touch food, and with every bit of food they pick up!
  1. Do I need some help to make sure eating goes well?

    • Call 416-338-7600 or eChat with a Public Health Nurse
    • Speak with a Registered Dietitian at Telehealth 1-866-797-0000
    • Attend a free Toronto Public Health Healthy Eating Series
    • Make an appointment with your health care provider.
    • Attend a parenting program like Nobody’s Perfect

Share how your family builds healthy eating habits by commenting below!

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