With patience, persistence, and tactical timing you can save your toddler from the health risks associated with being overweight.
American children’s waistlines are expanding. And although many parents are acutely aware of the risk of childhood obesity (and its links to adult obesity and life-shortening conditions) America remains rotund. But parents of toddlers are at an advantage. They can ward off the risk of obesity by providing the right foods at the right times to nurture a kid’s taste buds to a point where new foods aren’t repulsive… they’re exciting.
Experts agree that when it comes to fortifying healthy eating habits, the earlier parents start, the better. “Toddlers, and even younger children, are establishing their food preferences, many of which can last a lifetime,” says Malina Malkani, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Malkani says that promoting healthy eating early provides kids with the ability to explore new foods as they get older. The main benefit of this is that a broad palate provides options. “Allowing kids to develop tastes for different kinds of foods is really helpful to them because it gives them a whole spectrum of nutrients,” Malkani says.
But toddlers can be crazy stubborn come suppertime. The key to getting them to eat a balanced diet is to answer back with persistence. When toddlers reject a meal that took a long time to prepare, it can be disheartening for well-meaning parents, causing them to give up after only a few attempts. If they keep it up, though, results can and do happen.
“Some parents expose a child to a new food and give up right away if the child refuses it,” Malkani says. “But research points to about 16 exposures before a child will accept…