When it comes to kids and food, parents tend to think of their children as falling into one of two categories: "good eaters" and "picky eaters". "Good eaters" are the kids who eat veggies regularly and willingly try new, not necessarily "kid-friendly" foods, while their "picky" counterparts turn up their noses at anything that's not buttered noodles or chicken nuggets (or some equally bland, processed equivalent). Obviously picky eating is something no mom or dad wants to deal with, so what are some parenting habits that help you raise a "good eater"?
As a mother-of-three, I can say that while each of my children's individual personalities definitely influenced their dietary preferences, my own actions also played a role in shaping their appetites (for better or worse). My oldest wanted nothing to do with baby food or purées of any kind, so I gave up on that approach and — once she had a few teeth — started offering her whatever "grown-up" food I happened to be eating (from quinoa and tofu to lentil soup to spanakopita). Now, at 16, she still prefers healthy, "real" foods over the usual junk teens love. (Sure, she'll occasionally go for a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, but it's not one of her major food groups.) My 12-year-old son, on the other hand, had multiple food allergies as a baby and toddler, and while he's outgrown most of them, he's much pickier than his sister. I swear it's because he had such a limited diet during those early years, which meant that there were only certain foods and tastes he could be exposed to safely. (So far, my three-year-old seems to be a fairly adventurous type, but who knows what the future holds?)
The point is, while kids are of course born with their own tastes, your influence as a parent can make a huge difference in the way they approach eating for the rest of their lives. And experts say these are some of the best habits you can adopt to set them on the right path!