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Feeding children

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childrenWhat children learn at home about meal times and eating is important in how they feel about food for the rest of their lives.

Parents who have worked hard to get a meal ready can feel angry or hurt if children don't want to eat it. Everyone's appetite varies from time to time and no one wants to be made to eat something they don't like or don't feel like. Put yourself in their shoes...children are no different from adults in this.

  • Meal times should be relaxed, when people have a chance to talk together. In many families meals are eaten in front of the TV or everyone in the family eats at a different time. Try to have at least a few meals together each week.
  • Accept that young children can make a bit of a mess at meal times. Often this happens when they have had enough. Do not force children to stay at the table after they have finished their meal.
  • If the adults in the family eat their main meal late, children may need to eat earlier. They are often hungry after school and then tired by the evening meal so not wanting to eat. It helps to give them something healthy after school, eg a sandwich and fruit (see Snacks, below) and then let them eat less in the evening. Cold food is just as healthy as hot food.
  • Children need to learn to eat sitting down and to give themselves time to enjoy their food.
  • If your children do not like many foods try letting them eat at friends' homes or invite a friend over for a meal. It is amazing what they will eat when friends are there.
  • Encourage them to try new foods, variety adds interest, but don't force them. You may need to let them see a small piece of new food on their plate a few times before they are ready to taste it. Give them mostly the foods that they like (as long as it is healthy) - battles about food don't help children to learn to enjoy their meals.

If you are interested in this subject, please visit this website:

http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=114&np=302&id=1640

 

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