Food & Recipes

Discipline Your Tot’s Sweet Tooth

by Anita Sethi, Ph.d.

Discipline Your Tot’s Sweet Tooth

No one wants her child to be a junk-food addict. Even so, we sometimes desperately hand out Oreos just to get our picky toddler to eat something. We’ve all done it, but making too many compromises like this isn’t good for your child’s health. Here’s how to keep sweets in check:

Be prepared. Who hasn’t been caught on the road or in an emergency situation where the only option is a glazed doughnut or a chocolate bar from a vending machine? To stave off these snack attacks, keep healthy foods at the ready: small bags of Cheerios; soft fresh fruit like bananas and ripe melon, thinly sliced or cut into small pieces (no larger than half an inch); and whole-grain, low-sugar crackers and cookies. For now, skip whole grapes and raisins, which are choking hazards. Your toddler can only eat what you give him, so if you offer good-for-you foods, his diet will improve.

Water down juice. Limit the amount of sweetened beverages your child consumes, like soda and other sugary, high-calorie drinks. Give him water instead, or gradually dilute his juice with water  — he probably won’t even notice a difference. If he doesn’t like drinking water, try dressing it up with a few citrus slices. Homemade fruit smoothies are another tasty option.

Don’t ban cupcakes. When birthdays come around, don’t deny your partygoer a slice of cake. Remember: Forbidden fruit is always the tastiest. Give him a small piece, and make sure he’s eaten some “real” food first.