Train the children to use their five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) to appreciate every bite; this way the children are given the freedom to choose what they want to eat by themselves. This is a good method and the most logical way to combat the problems posed by modern times.
And what should a child be taught?
- To know the nature of foods and their flavor potential,
- To know their individual tastes qualities, and the right to choose their own foods and,
- To expand their variety and learn to enjoy the shapes, aromas, flavors, textures and sounds of their meal.
This method is useful to get the child to be interested in his nutrition, due to the knowledge and acceptance of the food flavors.
Some suggested activities to do with children based on their age:
|4-6 months to 1 year|
- Introduce one food at a time; offer it for 2 or 3 days to explore the baby’s tolerance to each food.
- Offer the new food when he or she isn’t very hungry.
- First offer the new food, then the milk.
- Give the new food along with other familiar foods.
- Never force them to try something or eat more than they want to.
- They must be shown, from a young age, whole fruits and vegetables so they can identify them; mashed foods take away the ability for the baby to capture the real nature of the food they are eating.
- Gradually increase the consistency: purees, ground or chopped.
- Avoid adding salt or sugar and don’t mix different foods, so he can get to know the quality of each one.
- Offer them several opportunities to try different flavors; this will add choices (newborns have seasonal preferences, sweet then salty, but bitter and sour have to be offered several times).
- Allow them to play freely with their food, so they can see the different textures, tastes, smells, shapes and always wash them well.
- Encourage self feeding, and acknowledge their efforts.
|1 to 3 years|
- Offer them foods several times a day (10 to 15), without forcing them or rewarding them for trying it. If they are introduced to several different foods at this age, they’ll accept new foods more easily at a later age.
- Encourage them to tell you if they’re hungry, what foods, colors, textures, shapes, sounds and tastes they prefer.
- Encourage them to use their sight, smell, touch and taste while eating. Take them food shopping, show them the variety, tell them the names, and ask them to choose one to eat. At home, allow them to help while preparing something they can do under adult supervision.
- Use easy to handle utensils, such as: Unbreakable tableware, broad-based glasses and cups, high edge dishes, diced foods.
- Promote good chewing and food tasting, they should eat small pieces of food and eat calmly.
|From 3 to 6 years|
- Continue increasing the variety of new foods and new preparations, so they can show a greater interest in trying them.
- Encourage choosing: do you prefer pear or apple?, chicken with sauce or without?
- Offer a family meal, with varied foods, preparations and presentations.
- Give a good example by enjoying your meals and food family traditions, regional and national.
- If they insist on eating the same thing, continue offering varied meals at regular times.
- Ask them to come to the table even if they’re not hungry and won’t eat, as the family table is the ideal place for them to learn habits and customs, and will give them a sense of belonging to their family and social group.
- Encourage them to feed themselves while avoiding excessive pressure on the use of silverware.
- Offer chances for them to peel, grate, spread, wrap foods, set and clean the table or wash the dishes.
|From 6 to 12 years|
- Asking children who are 7 to 12 years old to try something unusual, is harder because they are naturally more rebellious at this stage. That’s why one needs to use as much imagination as possible so that children approach foods in a positive way.
- Encourage group food experiences such as cooking simple dishes, designing snacks, going to the market or visiting a farm, gardening.
- If the child refuses to eat something, avoid offering another alternative food, because the child may never decide to eat it. Don’t use dessert as a reward for eating what they don’t want to eat. They can eat the other foods found on the table or try again on the following meal.
- Usually they find it more enjoyable when they eat with other children, siblings, cousins or classmates.
- You can spend one day a week practicing TASTING exercises, like if it was a class. And having a new ingredient, food or dish, as the GUEST for a session, to keep the child interested.
- Create a pleasant environment at meal times, where everyone wants to be, to allow for a better condition for people to enjoy their food.
- Continue introducing new foods or novel preparations.
- Serve small amounts and let them ask for more.
- Allow the child to have some favorite dishes and some they dislike.
- Moderate consumption of foods with excess sugar and salt.
- It’s convenient for the child to be involved in planning the family menu.
- Offer experiences and information they can feel proud of, for example, preparing a special dish for a celebration or knowing the dishes history or ingredients, preparing traditional dishes from different regions.
- Acknowledge their abilities and skills to select, prepare and taste foods.
More about …
Nutrition and Prevention in Children