Exposing a child to nutritious food consistently can steer his food preferences toward lifelong healthy choices. Paying attention to what a child eats, though, isn’t the same as controlling what a child eats.
While it depends on the child, most toddlers can adapt their food intake to what they need. If they eat very little at one meal, they’ll eat more at the next meal.
Children who are heavy for their age, however, show less ability to regulate how many calories they eat. Boys, on average, tend to be better at regulating how much they eat than girls.
Researchers have also found that children whose parents controlled what, when, and how much they eat showed the least ability to self-regulate. While you select what goes on the menu, letting your child choose what goes in his mouth helps him eat only as much as he needs.
Make Me Dinner!
Encourage your child to make healthy choices by playing this game:
- Put out a selection of plastic cups and plates, pots, and pans.
- Provide either real or plastic healthy foods (oranges, cheese, carrots).
- Say, “Mmm, I’m hungry! What shall we eat today?” and let the fun begin
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