Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits Start at Birth

Most parents want their children to have healthy eating habits.  Getting proper nutrition helps our bodies in every way, from becoming strong and fit and developing more fine-tuned brains, to getting better sleep and being emotionally balanced.  Wondering how to teach your children about healthy eating?  Well, it starts at the very beginning of life.

New research released as part of the Infant Feeding Practices Study indicates that healthy eating habits start at birth.  In the study, mothers and babies were tracked from the third trimester of pregnancy through the first year of life.  They were again contacted when the children reached age six to examine which infant feeding practices were related to healthier diets in older children.  Overwhelmingly the study revealed that babies who were breastfed and given healthier food options in their first year of life were more likely to remain healthy and develop healthy eating habits.

tendernessSpecifically, the study showed that the longer babies were breastfed, the less likely they were to develop ear, throat or sinus infections.  Breastfed children also eat more fruit and vegetables and drink more water.  Most children followed the same pattern that was established in infancy – if they were given healthy options, they continued to eat healthy.  If the were given sugary drinks and snacks, they continued to eat that way at age six.

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the U.S. and many resources are being used to educate parents and children on healthy eating habits.  But the first step starts with moms giving babies the best start in life through breastfeeding.  Beyond the perfect, wholesome nutrition breastfeeding gives babies, it creates stronger, smarter, healthier children.  It also creates a loving, intimate connection and a mealtime routine of being together for special family time.   The safety and security of this routine is an association that will remain with your baby throughout childhood and adulthood.  The long-term benefits of breastfeeding are undoubtedly the best gift you can give your baby.

It’s also important for parents to be role models for healthy eating habits too.  That includes showing your children how you eat all of the same healthy foods you offer your child; sitting down together for family meals; and setting an example by not over-eating.  Learning to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full are hard concepts for children but they are essential to healthy lifestyles.  Also, talking to babies and children about the value of good nutrition, which foods are healthy and where food comes from is helpful in creating a big-picture view.

Breastfeeding offers a wonderful opportunity to establish healthy habits in your children for many years to come.  Start your baby on the best path to health and wellness by being her advocate from birth.  She may not thank you now, but she will be very grateful in the future.