Helping your child establish healthy eating habits

Eating & Nutrition   |   Age: 7 months 4 weeks

Helping your baby establish healthy eating habits

It’s strange to think how important your baby’s eating habits are before she even has more than a couple of teeth, but it’s true. Right now, as she is only just figuring out how she feels about flavors besides breast milk or formula, she is fueling the growth of her body and brain that will carry her through till adulthood, and she is forming her very first ideas about taste in food and table manners.

Variety is the spice of life

At this point, your baby would have to have worked pretty fast to pick up any unbreakable eating habits, which is why it’s a great time to get her interested in and used to a bunch of different types of food. Even if your baby doesn’t seem thrilled by a new flavor when she is first introduced to it, don’t be afraid to offer it to her a few more times as time goes on - it can take children as many as ten or so times trying a taste out before they can decide if they like it. Variety isn’t just important as a way of standing against picky eating, either - the more varied your baby’s diet is, the more likely she is to get the right balance of the nutrients she needs naturally.

Follow your baby’s lead

It can be hard not to worry if your baby’s appetite seems to vary wildly, or if she goes through periods of eating almost nothing, especially as she grows into toddlerhood, and her growth and metabolism start to slow down. At this point, your baby has no real concept of overeating, and she will eat as much as she needs. In fact, feeding her when she isn’t hungry can teach her to ignore her body’s cues. As long as she is getting the nutrients she needs to keep growing at a healthy rate, there’s no harm in following your baby’s hunger cues, even if they’re unpredictable or strange. your baby's doctor will be able to reassure you if her growth is happening at a normal, healthy rate, and will definitely let you know if your baby's growth rate suggests that it might be a good idea to alter her diet a little.

All-natural flavoring

your baby may not have had the time to acquire a taste for sugar yet. She probably will, as few kids miss out on the instinct to hone in on anything candy-related eventually, but there’s no need to hurry that day along. your baby's kidneys also aren’t ready to process any added salt, so there are a few aspects of cooking it’s a good idea to hold off on introducing to your baby quite yet, even when she is first introduced to table food.

A family affair

One of the best ways to help your baby have positive associations with mealtime, and to help her start to participate in normal family life in a way that will carry her through childhood, is to sit her down at or near the dinner table with you for meals, and to eat with her. your baby just wants to be a part of the gang!

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