Some questions re: healthy eating habits

[deleted account] ( 14 moms have responded )

How do you encourage healthy eating habits in your child?

Right now my son is only 8 months old and I make all of his food at home, but there will come a time when it starts to become more and more out of my control.

Already, a friend of ours, trying to be nice to him, has given us "baby cookies" -- cookies labelled and marketed for babies. The second ingredients after flour? Sugar and chocolate. (We didn't let him eat any.)

There was another post on here about someone's sneaking Mountain Dew into their child's sippy cup and then laughing about it!

(1) Why do so many people try to give sweets to kids behind their parents' backs? Day after day, over and over, I see this problem on every parenting forum I read. It's like a perverse thrill for some people.

(2) What do you say to people who do this? Or more kindly, give it to you first? Do you lie and say, "Thanks, he'll have this later"?

I don't want to hurt my friends' feelings or seem like a prig. If I say, "Thanks, but he doesn't get chocolate" -- it's, like, a judgement on them because they often give that kind of food to their own kids.

(3) A lot of parents say "give sweets in moderation/as treats." That sounds good, but doesn't that create the idea that junk food is the BEST FOOD -- that you only get on special occasions and when you've been good?

I don't want my son to live in a bubble, I don't want to be a helicopter parent, and I know a little junk food won't cause him any harm -- but it really worries me.


[deleted account]

My solution to this? Keep only healthy foods at home. Don't worry about what my kids eat when they are in someone else's home. If my daughter asks for a cookie, and we don't have any, then she can't eat one. I'll offer a fruit or cheese instead, and she's okay with that 99% of the time. Don't worry so much about number three. I think it's worse to make junk a 'forbidden fruit' that he NEVER gets. He'll most likely see junk as what it is...something fun to eat on special occasions (or at grandma's like in our situation). You have so much power as a parent. Kids will generally value what their parents value. So stop worrying, Mama. =)

[deleted account]

We just made sure when we was introducing my son to solids he had 'proper' food not junk - no chocolate or sweets. Now at 19 months yes he will eat chocolate and sweets but he also thinks he is getting sweets if we give him fruit and veg (he eats carrots and sweetcorn first on his meals).

Like Sara I have realised that if Ethan is at grandma's he will be given junk food and I try to be relaxed about it - but if she gives him something I'm not happy with I tell her, the other day she gave him a giant ice lolly because his two older cousins had one - it made him sick and gave him a tummy ache, so the next week I made sure to point out that he didn't need a giant ice lolly but a small chocolate would be more than adequate.

[deleted account]

I really worries me that this really worries you.

It really worries me that it really worries you that this really worries me.

Is this a game or something?

Sherri - posted on 05/18/2011




You will be able to control it till they start school. Once they are at school. They celebrate birthday's, give candy as treats for certain behaviors, give juice at snack (we don't allow juice at home) I just have to let it go and know 99% of the time they are eating wonderfully.

Amy - posted on 05/18/2011



376 do i encourage. Pretty easy when you don't have tons of money. We grow our own garden and the kids help. They watch the plants grow, know it's food and take pride in helping with canning/freezing and want to eat "their" food. All we keep at home is healthy foods. I can whip up some oatmeal cookies if we want desserts. or brownies. But..I know they get a small amount and it's with quality ingredients. :)


View replies by

Alecia - posted on 06/02/2011




My daughter has always been good about eating fruits and veggies. even at 20 mnths she will choose to eat things like broccoli, carrots, strawberries, ect. and i dnt feel that giving treats mean those are the best foods. they taste good, but are not good for u, so not the best, and even my 20 mnth old understands. everything in moderation is key and since thats how i eat, thats how she eats. she doesnt see people too often that would sneak treats and my parents are all about healthy eating so they agree with us when it comes to her eating habits. if someone wants to give my daughter something i dnt want her to have, then i tell them. im not mean about it, but i couldnt care less what they want to give her. im her mama, and i dnt want her to have to deal with weight the way i have all my life. i eat much healthier than ever and still battle with my weight. so like i said, i dnt care what others think, she is my daughter and i have to make sure she grows up strong, healthy and with good eating habits. im appalled at ppl who give their toddlers soda...i actually have a friend who's 4 yr old would drink nothing but mntn dew and her pee was that color....she had to limit her!!! i told her that was not good (but didnt get upset...not my kid). my daughter has only had a few sips in her life and i plan on keeping it that way for a long time. i hardly drink soda myself anymore

Sherri - posted on 05/30/2011




So Juleah do you never allow any type of treat in your house? or ever go out to eat ever? or eat at someone else's home? or allow your child to celebrate in other peoples birthday parties etc?

JuLeah - posted on 05/29/2011




His first five years are critical and you are correct to control what he eats. His body and brain are developing fast, so yes, make sure his body gets the fule it needs. That, 'okay in moderation' idea is amusing to me. Food coloring, trans fats, are not okay on moderation - the will kill you slow, not fast when eaten only in moderation, but they are not okay.

Alison - posted on 05/19/2011




I dunno. If a friend offers something that I really don't want my child to have, I'll say "no, thanks". I don't take offense if someone says that to me. I think we are all free to parent more or less as we chose and I try not impose my views on other parents. If your friend does take offense, it is not your issue, assuming that you are being polite and non-judgmental.

"I don't want my son to live in a bubble, I don't want to be a helicopter parent, and I know a little junk food won't cause him any harm -- but it really worries me. "
I really worries me that this really worries you.

Amy - posted on 05/18/2011




1 - people try to sneak because they don't have to deal with after effects. just the looks on the child's face. Hello, my child is not your personal toy.

2 - People have tried to offer my children pop or candy at really young ages. I said unless you're sticking around to deal with them screaming from tummy aches, you'd better not! I've even told others that the snack was thoughtful, but not something my child can have because of how my child reacts to it.

3. We do sweet treats. Carrots. strawberries. we love it when it's the season for cherries and peaches!! My kids also each get to pick out one fruit and one veggie of choice at the store.

My kids have had jello, halloween candy, candy canes..all that stuff. but tiny pieces at a time and after they turned 2. Truth be told...still frozen chocolate i need to ditch out of freezer. we jsut don't eat sweets like that.

I remember my mom offering my daughter some kind of candy and she just said, no thanks, that makes me crazy. lol. My mom's face was priceless!!

[deleted account]

My SIL was feeding her daughter (who is 3 weeks older than my eldest) KFC hot chips (french fries) washed down with poppers (juice boxes) at 4 months, red cordial (it's like Kool Aid) at 6 months and the kid was allowed to eat almost any kind of junk from 6 months on pretty much.

My mind boggles at a 4 month old chewing and swallowing a French fry.

Or was she serving French fry/juice puree?

[deleted account]

You will control most of his food intake for quite some time still. Use that time to get him to loving fruits and veggies and healthy choices while educating him (when he's older of course) on the difference between "sometimes" food for special occasions and "every day" food to grow big and strong. Also, like Sara said, don't keep a lot of junk in the house.

I limit the amount of sugar and processed foods my boys (4 & 2) eat. We do not eat a lot of junk food. Neither of my boys ate their first birthday cakes and didn't really have any kind of sugary/processed junk until nearly age 2. I had to deflect junk being given to my kids, and I simply answered "Thank you, but he doesn't eat X yet." It's not a judgement on the person giving the food, it's a statement of what the child does and does not eat.

This was a little uphill battle for us in the beginning. My SIL was feeding her daughter (who is 3 weeks older than my eldest) KFC hot chips (french fries) washed down with poppers (juice boxes) at 4 months, red cordial (it's like Kool Aid) at 6 months and the kid was allowed to eat almost any kind of junk from 6 months on pretty much. Whereas my eldest was not. My husband's family couldn't see why I was being so strict. I mean, what's wrong with giving a 4 month old hot chips, right? *eye roll* They most likely thought I was the biggest bitch on the planet because my son didn't get to eat his cute 1st birthday cake (a mud cake). I didn't give a rat's arse then, and I don't now. Because of the foods they were exposed to at a young age, they have a preference for apples over lollies and broccoli over chips. We've loosened up quite a lot since they were 3 & 1 and started introducing more "fun foods". They can have biscuits and chocolate on occasion (well, my youngest doesn't get as much still) and they love hot chips too, but they are learning that these are special foods, not food to make you big and strong.

I sort of use the Popeye thing, like my parents did with me as a kid. My boys don't know who Popeye is, but they do know that DAD is big and strong... so we tell them that if they want to grow up big and strong, they eat the "every day" foods and not too much of the "some times" food. Even though they've always liked fruit and veg it's not much of a battle, but I like that they are learning what makes good building blocks for a healthy life.

It's your son. You decide what he eats at this stage, knowing that what he's learning now will go with him as he gets older. Set up the habits you want him to have now. There is no harm in delaying introduction of junk food. None of us really need junk food, ever. Babies and little kids need good, healthy food to build their brains (which aren't fully grown until they are about 2) and bodies. Whatever foundation you build now, will be a habit by the time he starts school. Don't demonise junk food, because it will make it appealing, but rather just explain why we don't eat it all the time.

With regard to #3, don't equate a treat with just being good. I always tell my boys they are always good, but sometimes their behaviour isn't. The kid is always good in my eyes. Good behaviour treats in our house aren't food related, because I grew up with the "if you're good you can have cake" kind of thing, as well as the "clean you plate, there are starving people in Ethiopia" and I know what a messed up relationship with food I have. I make up silly songs and dances for some things, like when my 2 yr old does all 5 steps of toileting without having to be prompted, or for bigger things we will do something fun. The boys have gone camping in our backyard with their dad for a weekend, we've gone to Sea World, or I'll give them money for those rides at the shopping center. "Treats" in the food sense are just foods that we like, but we only have once in a while because they aren't really good for us. The reason why anything is called a "treat" is because it's something that doesn't happen all the time. I've actually just given this explanation to my 4 yr old the other day when he asked for chocolate and we had none.

April - posted on 05/17/2011




I think the people who offer sweets to your child without asking you are the weirdest! We went to Applebees the other day and a customer walked by our table. She said to our, "I have some candy in my purse, would you like some?" Then she looked at my husband and asked if our 2 year old could have candy from her purse.

I know she was trying to be nice, but it was super weird at the same time. I wouldn't dream of giving a stranger's child candy, no matter how cute the kid was. It's just creepy. Anyway, to make a long story shorter. I don't think you have to worry about seeming like a helicopter are just being a normal mom!!

Jeneva - posted on 05/16/2011




You do your best to instill in them why you want them to eat healthy. If someone offers him something you don't want him to have then just say no thank you. Or tell them you don't want him to have it yet. I had to tell people that all the time (still do). If they ask why, just say you feel he's too young. If someone takes offense to your beliefs, that is essentially their issue, not yours. I allow treats every once in a while as a treat but it isn't because it's the best food ever, it's because it's unhealthy in large quantities.

Take the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Check out what he eats on Saturday and at the end he has a tummy ache. DUH! He ate too many sweets and too much food in one day! On Sunday he had his veges and felt better. I kid you not, use that to your advantage.

Just talk to him. Tell him what he's eating and how yummy and healthy it is. Tell him why that's important, show him pictures of the body and what good food does for our body. We have watched cartoon shows (Sesame Street is one) where they talk about it and we sing the songs and discuss it. My kids still ask for sweets but they also know why they can't have any whenever they want as much as they want.

Just remember to keep it positive. Dwelling on the negative won't help. And understand there is only so much you can do.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms