When your baby is ready for solids, it helps to think about what food to offer, and how to prepare nutritious meals. We understand that embarking on their food journey can be a mind-boggling one, so here is a handy guide to starting your baby on solids.
Children are very much like adults. They develop preferences and may choose to eat only certain foods at different stages. Therefore, parents would have to understand what their likes and dislikes are, consider how to “promote” healthier ingredients, and possibly introduce new foods into their diet to ensure children obtain adequate nutrition needed for healthy development.
#1: Offer more home-cooked meals
Whipping up homecooked meals lets you decide what goes into your dishes, and what not to add. Homecooked meals allow families to enjoy healthier meals with less oil, salt, and ingredients that are processed or are high in saturated fats. Food from outside usually contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), are deep fried, or use unhealthy oils to prepare, which may increase the risk of diseases in future.
Try offering more homecooked meals where possible.
#2: Choose fresh and healthy ingredients when shopping for grocery
When grocery shopping, point out to your children how fresh ingredients can offer plenty of nutrients that contribute to their health and growth. Younger kids will enjoy the sights and sounds at the supermarket or wet market, and are exposed to learning how to pick fresh ingredients to put a nutritional dish together. A sensorial learning experience for sure!
#3: Go with healthier cooking methods
Did you know that deep frying destroys more nutrients than steaming?
Health experts recommend boiling, steaming or blanching vegetables to minimise nutrient loss. Foods with beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein are best lightly cooked to enhance absorption of antioxidants by the body, and these are commonly found in tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and broccoli. In fact, contrary to belief, healthier cooking methods can conjure up delectable flavours too. Offer a variety of cooking methods to encourage exploration of textures and tastes for the palates.
#4: Educate children with the importance of healthy eating habits
Storybooks are engaging ways to share with young children why healthy eating is a positive approach to living well. The right knowledge empowers them to make the right food choices even through adulthood so a little goes a long way. Since our eating habits contribute to overall health and wellbeing, some parents take to showing their children the consequences of having unhealthy eating habits such as frequent consumption of fizzy drinks, and candies. A little visual sharing might just work for your kids too!
#5: Lead by example
Our children learn by watching our actions, behaviour and listening to what we say. When it comes to encouraging healthy eating habits, children are also observing if we walk the talk as parents. The food we eat and the choice of snacks we go for show our kids if we align our beliefs and actions. Take your pick from healthy snacks and a balanced diet – after all, they offer a multitude of benefits too!
#6: Reduce temptations of unhealthy food
While cutting out unhealthy food from our diets completely is not possible, eating in moderation helps. Processed food such as sausages, ice cream and candies are often associated with happy moments like parties and celebrations. This points to the psychological concept of Paired Associative Learning, where positive memories are associated with certain foods which are usually the less healthy ones.
#7: Avoid using junk food as rewards
Ditto the above point, and why putting junk food on that special pedestal makes children yearn for them even more. Using junk food or unhealthy snacks as a reinforcement to reward good behaviour is going to do more harm than good in the long run for your kids. But avoiding them totally is not feasible since other children will be eating them, and possibly taunting them. Hence, #4 comes peppered with patience, parents!
#8: Help them understand when they have eaten enough – Learn to self-regulate
Children can learn to self-regulate when they are full, and stop when they wish. That allows them to be more aware of their bodies and be attuned with their actions and how they feel.
#9: Promote small portions of healthy snacks and treats
Is your child not a fan of mum-approved snacks and treats? Let your child take baby steps towards appreciating and enjoying healthy snacks for kids. Swap chocolate bars for granola bars. Instead of deep fried chicken wings, how about using the air fryer to make your own? Smarter choices can help your child realise that healthy food can be equally yummy too!
#10: Involve your children
Getting your children involved in making healthy eating a part of your family is a vital step. When kids are part of the decision-making process, or have their views heard, they feel part of the team and not forced to eat well because daddy or mummy instructed. Start with grocery shopping together as a family, and your children will appreciate the effort of picking out fresh ingredients all in a bid to cook up delicious and nutritious meals. During food preparation, toddlers can help crack eggs or use a child-friendly knife to cut vegetables. These are life skills your children are exposed too while having fun in the kitchen with mummy and daddy!
#11: Eat together as a family
Lastly, remember to enjoy wholesome meals together as a family. Eating is a social activity which allows adults and children to share about their day, and communicate with each other in a relaxed manner. After all, hearty and healthy meals are best shared as a family, don’t you think?
Embracing healthy eating habits are some ways to ensure better health and wellness for our children and loved ones. With healthier diets and a positive lifestyle, we are showing our children that taking care of our bodies is important. After all, raising world-ready children is a journey, and we want to be there to experience life together!
Are you finding it difficult to cultivate healthy eating habits in your children? Share with us what your challenges are!
Does having your toddler help with the household chores sound like a dream come true, or an unbelievable attempt?
With a host of learning possibilities, young children who are involved with housework become better individuals and team players.
The initial effort of teaching and guiding your child with the household chore may seem like a tall order. However, once your toddler is familiar with how things are done and discover the exciting side of it (yes!), it will be much easier to get them completed with an extra pair of hands!
Simple tasks such as getting your toddler to keep his toys after play, establishes the order of how things are in your home. While it is easy for adults to clean up for them, doing so shows them that someone else will clean up after them.
For a start, show him the boxes or drawers where the toys belong, and keep them together.
Make it fun by singing and jiggling along so it seems like a game too! Before long, he will be able to clean up after play, by taking ownership of his belongings.
2) Develop team player skills
Completing a task together halves the effort and takes lesser time. Let your toddler observe how quick and fun it is to do those household chores together. As he realises that his cooperative role in with the chore has a positive impact, he would appreciate his role and look forward to making a difference.
Cleaning his toys, or helping to wipe the table after meals are simple ways your toddlers can help. At the same time, he learns to collaborate and work together towards a common goal – a spick and span home. Well, almost!
3) Develop leadership skills
Just as team player skills are important social skills in life, leadership skills allow toddlers to take on decision making, and learn how to influence others to work towards shared objectives together. He also become more aware of others’ needs and perspectives, progressively become more independent, which all adds to character building.
This also means your toddler gets a chance to hone his problem-solving skills during those opportunities. Can’t find the original box to keep those jigsaw puzzles? Look for an empty lunchbox to keep them! This allows your toddler to stretch his communication and observation skills to initiate the search for an alternative container, and possibly end up with a game of treasure hunt to look for one!
4) Feel a sense of belonging
Each family member plays a role in the house. As your child becomes more involved in keeping a systematic routine for a clean home, it gives him the opportunity to give back to parents for what they have done for them. As he begins to see the importance of his role and contribution, it allows the child to have a stronger connection to the family.
Nurture your little Jamie Oliver by getting him involved in meal preparations. Assign simple tasks such as sorting vegetables and mushrooms, cracking and beating eggs. When both of you are more confident, your toddler can help by cutting food. Besides picking up survival skills, he learns to appreciate the effort behind a meal, and his fruit of labour will taste extra yummy too!
5) Understand about hygiene and cleanliness
The basics of hygiene is a habit cultivated from an early age. Toddlers are exposed to understanding those cleanliness standards as part of the family’s house rules, and develop their acceptance level of hygiene too.
Start the day by letting your toddler learn to make his bed. After meals, he can help with washing the dishes too! These simple household chores will help set your future teenager in putting his hands to maintain good hygiene in the home too.
6) Sharpen organisational skills
Don’t wait till you are expecting guests at your home to start involving your toddler in household chores! Offer your child the chance to sharpen his organisational skills, by learning to take instructions from you on how to put things back in their original place. Soon enough, he will know to do that without you telling him to!
Sorting the laundry offers a chance for your toddler to categorise by colour or material type. Helping to put those markers and crayons back in their holders after use, are simple ways of being organised.
Besides developing a higher self-esteem, your toddler is better able to manage his emotions such as cope with frustration, or expect gratification for a task done.
8) Learn to be appreciative, kind and helpful
Kindness begins at home, and parents set the best examples.
Experts share that young children involved in household chores understand the effort of keeping the home clean and develop a sense of gratitude and are thankful for what their parents do for them. By helping with the household chores, your toddler discovers how it feels to be appreciated, and in turn, learn from you how to be appreciative of others. It goes beyond getting the tasks done, and at the same time subtlety inculcating positive values in him.
As parents, we hope to set our kids in a nurturing environment for them to adapt and grow. Helping out with household chores offers the setting to develop their character and teach them positive values and attitude. In simple ways, they are gradually filling up their character banks to make them more wholesome. All in our bid to raise world-ready children to take on the future world!
Do you involve your children in household chores? Share with us how your little ones are helping out!