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Helping toddlers eat the right foods starts early

Parents are often puzzled and concerned when their toddler's appetite suddenly decreases, and they lose interest in certain foods.

After the first year of life, food isn't the main focus, because the child is more interested in experiencing other senses. This is a normal behavior for toddlers. They are interested in other things. They are exploring with their hands; they're using their nose; they're listening to new things; and they're just much more distractible.

And that's a good thing in a way because it means that they're learning new things, and again it's a way for them to naturally control their weight gain.

It's also important for parents to be a good nutrition example. Instead of giving up after a few efforts, a parent should eat a certain new food in front of the child, and encourage him to try it. Setting a good example makes it more likely that a child will eat the foods they see their parents consuming.

Parents need to do all they can to make sure their young children eat the right foods.

A recent study shows infants and toddlers have unhealthy diets similar to older children and adults. The study involved infants and young children between four months and two years of age. Results showed even these extremely young children were eating foods that contained too many calories, and fat, and not enough servings of fruits and vegetables.

As toddlers get older, they eat more French fries, and other starchy vegetables. Many of the vegetables that infants ate from commercial baby foods included deep yellow vegetables, and as the infants grew older, the study found that more potatoes and starchy vegetables were added to the children's diet. They also found that there was a low percentage of dark green leafy vegetables eaten by all age groups.

The study recommends that parents offer a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to their infants and toddlers, and occasionally offer high-fat and calories foods, such as desserts, and sweetened drinks. If parents offer healthy food choices to their children starting at a young age, they will help form healthy eating habits and food preferences that their children will take into the future.

Web posted on Thursday, May 4, 2006

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