As a parent, you always have your child’s best interest at heart. No matter how much you want your baby to stay your little baby forever, eventually they’ll be an adult. The things that you teach them now are the habits and characteristics that they will carry with them into adulthood. That may seem like a lot of pressure, but if you start implementing good routines and habits at a young age, they’ll be healthier adults. One of the areas that this is especially important is with their health. If as a young child, they eat foods filled with sugar and don’t practice good hygiene, then they’ll probably carry those habits with them forever.
Starting as a baby
A lot of people complain about their children being picky eaters. Sometimes it can be in a child’s natural disposition, but more often than not, it could’ve been prevented as a baby. When you start feeding your baby solids somewhere between 4 and 6 months old, don’t start with fruits or anything sweet. In fact, it’s been recommended that you wait to give them anything sweet until after their first birthday. Feeding them sweet things too young will make them dislike the taste of anything savory, as they’ll naturally prefer the sweet things that you give them. This is a great way to set yourself up for success for the rest of their life.
Limiting juice and sugary drinks
Kids seem to prefer juice to water, and there is a common misconception that fruit juice is good for you. Yes, fruit is good for you. However, when you eat an apple, you’re also getting all of the fiber of the fruit as well as the juices. When you drink apple juice, even if it’s 100% apple juice, you’re not getting any of the fiber, which is what makes the fruit so healthy. It’s mostly sugar. Natural sugar, but sugar nonetheless. When you do choose to give your child juice, dilute it with water so it’s healthier and has less sugar in it.
And speaking of sugary drinks, teach your child early on that soda is a special-occasion drink, not a daily habit. The best way to do this is to encourage them to drink water instead, and set the example yourself. Regularly drinking water has numerous health benefits and will keep your child away from more harmful drinks.
Don’t keep sweet snacks at home
No matter how much you want to be the mom that greets her children after school with a glass of milk and a plate of warm cookies, that’s probably not the smartest thing to do for your child’s health. An afternoon snack is a wonderful idea, but maybe half of a sandwich or some celery and peanut butter would be a better idea. The same goes for when your child wants a snack at anytime of the day. Instead of letting them choose something sweet, like candy or fruit snacks, try to steer them to something healthier and less sweet. Desserts do not need to be a daily occurrence in your home. In fact, they don’t even need to be a weekly occurrence. Let them be a special treat for your child to look forward to, so they understand that they’re for special occasions and not every single day. A great alternative to a super sweet and sugary dessert, is some Greek yogurt with honey or natural jam. Or even just a few slices of fruit. If your child is going to eat sugar, natural sugar is a much better option than something that contains refined sugars.
Practicing good oral hygiene
Eating sugar is inevitable. You don’t want to deprive your child or make them feel like they’ll have to binge on sugary foods whenever they get the chance. So when you do eat sugar with your child, it is especially important to have good oral hygiene habits already in place. This means teaching them how to brush thoroughly.
Watch for hidden sugars in “health” foods
One of the most dismaying things to learn when you’re trying to stay away from sugar is how much of your regular diet has hidden sugars. Take a look at how much sugar is hidden in a granola bar, or your favorite yogurt. There’s even sugar in some snack chips! Whenever possible, it’s recommended that you opt for low-sugar options and use made-at-home products over processed food from the store. Check labels so you understand how something as simple as your favorite pasta sauce can replace tonight’s dessert as far as sugar content.
Thanks to Aurora McCausland for this guest post.
Aurora McCausland is a professional writer and blogger enjoying life in Salt Lake City, Utah. Although she spends the majority of her time writing, when she’s not, you can find her cuddling her dog, hiking with her husband, or trying to find the perfect coffee shop. You can see more of her writing on her website www.auroramccausland.com or check her out on instagram, @auroramccausland.