Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Super Kids Nutrition: 5 Easy and Early Steps to Raising a Good Eater

I recently started writing for an amazing pediatric nutrition website, SuperKidsNutrition. The founder and editor-in-chief Melissa Halas-Liang, MA, RD, CNSD, CDE has poured her heart and soul into creating children's books and a website that reaches out to children and their families who want to learn about eating healthier. Check out her site.

Here is the text to a recent article that I wrote for them.  
You can find it here.

5 Easy and Early Steps to Raising a Good Eater
  1. Eat a variety of foods while you are pregnant. Research shows that infant's food preferences develop while still in your uterus. If a pregnant woman only eats potatoes and cheese, her child might not want to try foods with stronger tastes. If they do try it, it may take them longer to learn to like it.
  2. Continue to eat a variety of foods while you are breastfeeding since breast milk also contains the flavors of the foods you eat. Children who are breastfed are more likely to try and like the foods that they recognize from their mother's milk.
  3. Even before your child is ready for solid foods, have them spend time with you while you cook in the kitchen. The aroma and smell of the food can encourage them to try foods later on in life.
  4. When introducing solid foods, and even once solid foods are well established, introduce one new food every 2-3 days if there is no evidence of an allergic reaction. The new food can be in addition to a food that is already well-liked and even mixed into or dipped into a well-liked food. Try to step out of your comfort zone and purchase foods that you don't normally consume. For example, even if you never eat avocado, you should still introduce it to your growing child.   Similarly, even if you usually choose jarred baby foods, also introduce cooked fresh fruits and vegetables as they have different flavor profiles. A child who eats jarred bananas may never learn to like a fresh banana.
  5. At any childhood age, never assume that your child dislikes a certain food because they refuse to eat it once, twice, or even ten times. It may take your child 12-15 attempts to acquire a taste for a new food. Leave a small piece of the food on their plate, along with other foods the child does enjoy. Hopefully, they will pick it up, touch it, smell it and even try it after seeing it a few times. And a few attempts after that...they may even enjoy eating it! (Try not to act too surprised, overjoyed, or full of praise when this happens.)  On the other hand, if you force them to try it, that can backfire and the child may have negative associations with that food. On a similar note, when in the presence of your child, never mention to another adult or child that your son/daughter does not like a certain food. If you tell them they don't like it...they won't like it.


  1. We have a child who will eat almost anything put in front of her, including flavorful things. We didn't believe in cooking special foods for her and don't want to become the people who feed their kids plain pasta and white cheese because their kid only eats white foods. So we just give her whatever we have around from leftovers (but usually adding more veggies for her) and have found that as long as we give her variety, she eats a variety. She has only consistently rejected a few things so far and I believe those are based on texture (bananas and avocado)but we keep trying them.

  2. Great suggestions! My only quibble is with the title "good eater." It implies that some children are "bad" eaters and I'd prefer not to put a value on it.
    Have you read My Child Won't Eat?

  3. Brooke, I am so glad it is all working out!

    Mother in Israel, you are so correct! I guess the positive term does not necessarily imply the negative b/c i agree, "bad" eater does not have a nice ring to it. However, I do think there are kids that do not eat well- I know some kids that will only eat pasta and white cheese, as Brooke stated. And that is not good. How about "not as good eater?"

    Have not read that book. I am a big fan of Ellyn Satter's books.