I was surprised to read in a magazine that one parent in three does not cook vegetables for their children (according to research from www.MyVoucherCodes.co.uk) and does not provide the recommended 5-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables. Most of the mothers I know are very conscious about giving healthy food to their children (some I suspect make better, healthier food for their children than they do for themselves!).
Some of the parents in the survey believed that 5-a-day was too costly and not essential, but 54% explained that they failed the 5-a-day because their children refused to eat healthily.
Encouraging children to eat healthly is not always easy but I think a starting point is for parents to set a good example. If a child is used to seeing their parents eat healthy food, they'll likely want the same thing. We all know how our children like a bite of whatever we are eating so if we eat fruit and vegetables, that's what they will get used to. Other factors like introducing a wide range of fruit and vegetables at the weaning stage is important too and helps develop their taste buds and willingness to try new foods.
Little People's Plates is a site I came across recently that focuses on feeding the under-3s and raising healthy toddlers. They have various helpful tools and tips, as well as an infant and toddler forum consisting of practising paediatricians, health visitors, dieticians and child psychologists. The information they provide is aimed to "help you make sensible, informed choices about how to feed your toddler whether you're cooking everything yourself or using pre-prepared foods".
One feature on the site is their ten steps for healthy toddlers. The tips are not just about what you should feed your toddler but how to give them an overall healthy balance. They suggest things like incorporating an hour of active play every day, respecting your child's food preferences and not insisting they eat everything on their plate. I'd recommend you have a read of the ten steps, as if nothing else, they are good reminders of what we parents can do to help get our little ones off to a healthy start in life.
Do you make a conscious effort to provide 5-a-day for your children? Do you have any difficulties achieving that? Are any of the ten steps for healthy toddlers things you had not considered or are there any that you think are especially important?