Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Common Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding Children

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Here’s a look at six common mistakes parents make when feeding their children.

Sending Children Out of the Kitchen

It is understandable that parents don’t want children close to hot stoves, boiling water and sharp knives. But studies suggest that involving children in meal preparation is an important first step in getting them to try new foods.

Pressuring Them to Take a Bite

Demanding that a child eat at least one bite of everything seems reasonable, but it’s likely to backfire. Studies show that children react negatively when parents pressure them to eat foods, even if the pressure offers a reward.

Keeping “Good Stuff” Out of Reach

Parents worry that children will binge on treats, so they often put them out of sight or on a high shelf. But a large body of research shows that if a parent restricts a food, children just want it more.

Dieting in Front of Your Children

Kids are tuned into their parents’ eating preferences and are far more likely to try foods if they see their mother or father eating them. Parents who are trying to lose weight should be aware of how their dieting habits can influence a child’s perceptions about food and healthful eating.

Serving Boring Vegetables

Calorie-counting parents often serve plain steamed vegetables, so it’s no wonder children are reluctant to eat them. Nutritionists say parents shouldn’t be afraid to dress up the vegetables.

Giving Up Too Soon

Eating preferences often change. Parents should keep preparing a variety of healthful foods and putting them on the table, even if a child refuses to take a bite. In young children, it may take 10 or more attempts over several months to introduce a food.

(This was excerpted from an article of Mercola’s that I read a couple years ago)

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2 Responses to “Common Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding Children”

  1. It requires tough love to get a child to eat properly if they don’t already do it. I don’t have any children, but have had to do so with my pets. I became an informed pet parent and started looking at the ingredients lists much like I do my own food. Some of the snacks I brought home, although healthy, were not as palatable as the sugar and starch laden Beggin’ Strips. But, with dedication, love, and a passion for their health, I now have 5 year old puppies.

    Great info!

  2. amy Hengst said

    Great list. I read an interesting article recently from the point of view of a gourmet chef, who felt that “children’s menus” in restaurants did a disservice by encouraging parents and children to stick to a safe range of food rather than try new things. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/nyregion/25bigcity.html?ref=nyregion

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