A lot of parents tell us mealtime is always a battle. We get it. It’s not easy. But at the same time, how you feed your child from the start is really important. In fact, research shows that a child’s eating habits are established by age 3. The good news is that you, as the parent, have the power to make positive changes to your food parenting strategies that can make a big difference in your child’s health and well-being. It’s going to take a lot of patience and practice—and you may not get it right every time—but we’re here to help.
Food parenting describes the way you, as a parent, teach your child to develop a lifelong relationship with food. It’s the tactics you use to influence what, when, how and how much your child eats (or doesn’t eat).
A great deal of our parenting revolves around food. As soon as we leave the hospital with our new bundle of joy, we’re worried if baby is getting enough breastmilk or formula. By the time he’s a toddler, we’re worried he’s becoming a picky eater and will try anything just to get him to eat something—whatever it is! When he throws a tantrum in public, food is often the first thing we offer to calm him down. Since so much of our natural parenting instincts revolve around food, we call it “food parenting.”
Did your parents ever tell you that you couldn’t have dessert until you cleaned your plate or that you couldn’t get up from the table until you ate all of your vegetables? (Clean Plate Club, anyone?) Or when you got hurt or had a “boo-boo,” did your parents give you a Popsicle or sweet treat to feel better?
Good or bad, these describe the way many of us grew up with food. And because that’s how we were raised, it’s the way we tend to “food parent” our own children. Whether it’s becoming a short-order cook and making separate meals for our children who won’t eat or rewarding their good behavior with sweet treats, we have a hard time breaking these habits because we learned them from our own parents and relatives. But that doesn’t mean we can’t change them. With patience, determination and some Strong4Life ideas for good food parenting, you can help your child develop healthy associations with food.
It’s never too late to start good food parenting, but the earlier the better. That’s where Strong4Life comes in. Our website is filled with expert advice from doctors, nutritionists and wellness experts who are parents too. We have felt your pain. That’s why we take a realistic approach to food parenting for kids from birth to school age. Because if it didn’t work for us, we aren’t going to recommend it for you.
Use our free resources to help you get over the daily parenting struggles and to get your children on a healthy track. With our help, you can say goodbye to mealtime battles, the Clean Plate Club and so much more! Start here to find age-appropriate tips for your child.
Food parenting matters. Start early.