Whether it's a two-year-old screaming for chicken nuggets or a three-year-old who refuses to eat anything other than cereal, there are several instances when parents wonder if the food battle is even worth it. After all, we all know plenty of children who grew up on nothing but hot dogs and turned out alright, so why fight food battles today when you could just worry about them later? Is establishing good eating habits at an early age really that important?
Unfortunately for stressed out moms and dads, the truth is that teaching your children to eat healthy foods from an early age really is that important. Not only do young children need the nutrition that a healthy diet provides, but the food habits parents begin now will likely continue throughout the child's life.
Childhood is a tremendous time of growth for children, especially children from the ages of birth to five. While they are still small, they are growing and developing rapidly. Children need the nutrients that come from a varied diet. They don't have to have every food group at every meal or even every day, but it is essential that they receive all of the nutrients that they need on a regular basis.
Secondly, while it may not seem like it at the time, starting good habits younger is actually far easier than starting them later in life, when a child's eating preferences are already established. Babies who are trying new things are generally more willing to try a wide variety of new tastes and textures, while three-year-olds who are used to only eating one or two things are just as happy to continue being picky.
Getting your children to try new things can be difficult, but take heart in the fact that this resistance is normal. In fact, your children may need to try a new food as many as twenty times before they learn to like it! Instead of force-feeding your children new foods or giving in to their constant demands, slowly begin adding a little more variety in addition to their usual fare. Over time, these new foods will become normal and familiar, and it won't be long until you realize your children aren't so picky after all.
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