INA Weekly Brief

Healthy and Effective Ways to Feed Your Littles

July 10, 2017
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Patience works better than pressure”

According to nutritional studies adults gravitate towards the same foods eaten during childhood. Young children need nutritious foods to grow and be healthy. Getting them to eat can sometimes be challenging and frustrating. It is normal for young children to protest to lots of things and eating healthy foods tops the list. You never hear an adult beg a child to eat dessert. Trying to get them to eat their veggies or healthy foods is a constant battle.  Parents and caregivers have good intentions when it comes to feeding their young ones and may not always go about it the right way. The good news is that you do not need to become a nutrition guru to raise healthy eaters.

Consider these guidelines on feeding children healthy and efficiently:

  • Children eat what they see their families eat. Be a good role model and eat healthy foods, then your child will learn to love them as you do.
  • Help children to serve themselves. Do not worry about a few spills. Children tend to eat the foods they choose, and it helps them learn about hunger and satiety. A child’s stomach is still small so start with small servings of each food.
  • Offer a variety of foods, including vegetables and fruits for meals and snacks. Let your child decide what and how much to eat.
  • Offer just a taste for new foods along with foods they like. Do not give up if your child does not like it right away. You may have to offer it several times before he or she accepts it.
  • Never force children to eat or make them “clean their plate,” Instead encourage them to taste the food. Patience works better than pressure.
  • Get children involved in making smart food choices. Let your child pick a vegetable and fruit at the grocery store or farmer’s market for the family to try. Having children help in the kitchen is an excellent way to get them to try new foods.
  • Fortify family meals with healthy ingredients. It is ok being the “sneaky chef,” particularly when you have picky eaters.  Add a puree of veggies to muffins turning them into wholesome foods.
  • Eat family style. By eating together, children will be more willing to accept new foods and eat healthier. When they see others choosing healthier foods, they are more ready to try them too.
  • Be positive. No shaming and bribing. Offering and withholding a treat increases preference for the unhealthy foods instead of the healthy foods.
  • Turn off the TV and other electronics devices during meal times. It is an unnecessary distraction. Children are not savoring their meals and are either rushing or prolonging it. Use this time to catch up on events of the day.


Henriette Dyer is a Career Nanny and a former Preschool Teacher in Los Angeles, CA.  Henriette studied Early Childhood Education and obtained a degree in Nutrition. She enjoys cooking and travel. One of her famous dishes is a Baked Spaghetti and Turkey Cheese Pie.