FOR parents who want to ensure that their children have a nutritionally sound start in life, eliminating certain bad habits early, and inculcating good habits is seen as the key to raising healthy eaters. As such, many parents cut out too much sugar and preservatives, while including lots of fruits and vegetables in their children's meals, as it is believed that those children who learn healthy habits early will continue eating healthily like adults.
The quest to be healthy can be hard though, especially for the parent who is rushed for time, and the child who is faced with the temptations of sweet and empty-calorie snacks and sugary juices in other preschoolers' lunch kits. It's not an impossibility to keep on the healthy path though, here are some tips from parents for making your child's food as healthy as possible.
When my baby started solid foods around six months, I didn't want her to get any of the preservatives in the foods in jars. So I'd go to the market every other weekend and stock up on the green beans and carrots, potatoes and pumpkin. I'd crush these myself using formula instead of butter and feed it to her. To the tasteless things like beans, I'd mix in proteins like pureed chicken which I would boil especially for her, without excess salt. You can do a whole batch and freeze, and this can last two or three days, once you freeze immediately after cooking, and in an airtight container.
— Camille, mom to four-year-old Susannah
I can't afford sugarless juices for my child's lunch kit, so I improvise as best as I can. If I must give her the box juices, I read the labels carefully to check the sugar content and ALWAYS dilute with water. Most times though I'm making carrot or cucumber, melon or pineapple juice from scratch, which I use other fruits to sweeten. I've even tried pumpkin juice. That way I know exactly how much sugar he's consuming.
— Natalie, mom to five-year-old Jack
I bought a baby food blender, but any regular blender can do to blend regular food to the consistency your baby needs. For example, did you know you could make your own 'rice cereal' by turning regular brown rice to powder with a grinder and boiling it for a few minutes in milk? Add a mashed banana and this is perfect for a seven month old's lunch.
— Mary, mom to seven-month-old Nathaniel
I have found that everything can be frozen. Buy the freshest foods you can find, then cut them into the portions you will use, then freeze. I dice everything I will use for the baby and freeze them, even bananas, then when I'm ready, I just thaw and use.
— Kerlyn, mom to three-year-old Lacey
You want the baby to eat from the family pot when it's time, but there are certain things the rest of the family eats that may not be good for baby. I'd advise that instead of giving baby some of your stew chicken, for example, that you boil the baby's chicken instead, so the baby doesn't get so much salt or seasonings. And things like porridge defeat their purpose if you're slathering it with condensed milk. Use formula or something like bananas for sweetening instead.
— Louise, mom to three-year-old Elizabeth
Remember, hygiene is important when preparing food for baby, so is proper storage. Foods made with milk, for example, should be thrown out once the baby has started eating from that bowl, and not used back later. And don't leave food frozen for extremely long periods before consuming.