Offer Foods That Will Help Keep Your Child's Teeth Healthy
Bacteria in the mouth mix with sugar in food and form an acid. This acid causes tooth decay. The longer the acids are in the mouth, the greater the chance of tooth decay. There are foods that you can offer that can help keep your child’s teeth healthy.
Set Regular Times for Meals and Snacks
Have meals and snacks at the same time daily- children like routine. Leaving space between eating allows your child to have an appetite for the next meal or snack. If they are always eating they may be full when you are expecting them to eat.
Offer 3 meals and 2 – 3 snacks daily.
Offer child-sized portions and use child-sized plates, cups and utensils.
Limit sweets and snack foods (chocolate, candy, chips etc.).
Limit or avoid sweet beverages like juice.
Limit milk to no more than 3 cups per day since it may replace other important foods.
Offer water to satisfy thirst in between meals.
Supervise Your Child When They Are Eating
Parents and caregivers should always supervise the child while they are eating.
Offer age appropriate foods to prevent choking.
The child should be sitting upright, not be lying down, walking, running or distracted from the task of safe eating.
Eating in a moving vehicle is considered unsafe. If choking should occur, it is difficult to attend to the young child while driving.
Avoid Using Food as a Reward or Punishment
When you want to reward your child, give them hugs and kisses. These are much more valuable than candy, and are calorie-free.
Punishment will not allow children to follow their hunger and satiety cues, and may lead to negative attitudes about eating and poor eating habits.
Do Not Force Feed
Respect your child’s appetite and follow their hunger and fullness cues. Allow the child to guide feeding.
Make Mealtimes Enjoyable
Mealtime environment is important to support healthy eating habits:
Eat meals together as a family.
Be a good role model – eat well yourself and eat a variety of foods. Parents, siblings, peers and other family members are all role models for your child.
Avoid distractions at mealtime – turn off the TV and remove toys. Allow your child to focus on what their tummy is telling them.
Let children leave the table when they are full. Preschoolers may not be able to sit at the table for a long time.
Involve your child in meal planning, grocery shopping and preparing the meal.
Remember that learning to eat can be messy. Do not have expectations that are too high about mealtime behaviours and table manners for the age of your child. Your child may not enjoy mealtimes if rules are too strict.