Phase 2: Healthy Habits
The transition from 1 to 2 years of age is a period of increased independence for your child. The strong base of healthy habits for children and parents built in Phase I will continue in Phase II. Remember, the healthy habits you are teaching your toddler now will grow with them to middle school and beyond.
Sensible rules for great teachers:
- Children learn and discover their world by copying the behavior of people around them. Explain to each member of the family the importance of setting a good example for your toddler to learn from and imitate. To teach good habits you need to make sure both your words and actions are consistent.
- Limit sugary and other unhealthy foods. Kids have a natural preference for sweet foods, so it is important to introduce them to the flavors of fruits and vegetables.
- Be patient. A toddler’s likes and dislikes can change from day to day. Familiarity is the key to acceptance. It can take 8-10 exposures to a new food before your child will eat it. Give your child choices but do not force her to eat anything.
- Do not give in to unreasonable requests or accommodate the “food ruts.” You do not want to force your child to eat anything but you do need to set rules and boundaries. Urge everyone to try at least a few bites of everything.
- Do not make a fuss over your child’s eating habits. If your toddler does not want to eat, simply wrap up the meal and put it away, but do not offer something else. When you child gets hungry again, you give them the plate of food from earlier. Do not beg, bribe or punish your child to eat.
- Be positive about your child’s eating habits and avoid labels. The word “picky” has a negative association. If he hears from you that he does not like corn he will believe he does not like corn. Instead of giving up, think of him as “selective” and continue to offer rejected foods.
- Although it can be hard at times, always try to keep your cool. As children approach age 2, they may reject food just for the power of being able to do so. Keep to a regular schedule and offer nutritious snacks several times a day.
- Stock the pantry and refrigerator with healthy foods. If you do not keep junk food in the house, no one can eat it. If you must have something, keep it out of sight.