It's important to help your children develop healthy eating habits at an early age. By age three, children are less likely to use eating or not eating to be rebellious. Usually, (although almost certainly not always), children will learn to better interact, participate, and enjoy family meals.
Tips for parents
Accept strong food preferences:
Your three-year-old kid may be enthusiastic about eating, but may have specific food preferences. Some of his/ her preferences may vary from day to day. For example, your child may eat a particular food enthusiastically one day and then deny eating the same food the next day. Your kid may ask for a certain food for several days in a row and then suddenly stop liking it. This kind of behaviour is very typical for a three-year-old. You are suggested not to make an issue of it. Instead, continue giving a variety of healthy foods and let your kid choose what and how much he or she wants to eat.
Encourage, but don't force trying new foods:
Serve very small amounts of new food to your child to taste and serve it along with other foods he or she already likes. Do not expect him/ her to eat a full portion of the newly introduced food.
Offer nutritious food choices at every meal:
As a parent, you should serve your three-year-old nutritious food choices at every meal. Once you serve healthy options, let him/ her make the decision of how much to eat. If your child shows picky eating preferences such as resisting vegetables, don't get discouraged or frustrated. Keep serving several healthy food options, even if your child did not like them before. It may require up to 15-20 repeated exposures to developing a taste for food.
You can keep meals simple and nutritious:
Meals at this age need not be fancy. In fact, majority three-year-olds prefer simpler preparation. If you have only a few minutes to prepare a meal, try simple meals comprising a protein source, whole grain, fruit, vegetable and dairy. For example, a peanut butter sandwich, a serving of carrots, an apple and a glass of milk.
Turn off the TV, particularly at mealtimes:
Television advertising can pose a big challenge to your three-year-old's good nutrition. Young children easily get influenced by ads for unhealthy foods e.g., sugary cereals, fast food and sweets. The best way to avoid this is to switch off TV during mealtime and putting all devices away or plugging them into a charging station.
Feeding & Nutrition Tips: Your 3-Year-Old[Internet]. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/nutrition/Pages/Feeding-and-Nutrition-Your-Three-Year-Old.aspx. Accessed on Feb 24, 2020.