For Talia’s birthday, we had colorful cupcakes, along with ice cream as a back-up dessert. While serenading the little lady, she looked at us like we were crazy, not even cracking a smile the entire time. I thought she’d dive right into her birthday cupcake when I placed it on her tray, but that was not the case. She frowned, and then looked at me with displeasure in her big, beautiful eyes.
Through a bit of research, I came across an article by Dr. William Sears that describes the first three years of a child’s life as a prime opportunity to cultivate lifelong, healthy eating habits. He explained that while babies are born with a natural preference for sweets, such as breast milk and milk, the majority of their taste preferences are learned by way of the parents.
With that being said, both of my daughters love to eat fruits and vegetables. My oldest, for some reason, will also request grits for breakfast and dinner sometimes. On occasion, I’ll comply, but I always add some vegetables to her meal at dinner. When she’s given the opportunity to decide what she can eat, she’s a very happy camper.
But I digress.
My baby girl refused to eat her birthday cupcake. I had to literally place a few crumbs onto her spoon just to get her to even try it. While her big sister happily took a few licks of icing off of her cupcake (she refuses to eat the cake portion), I instead gave the birthday girl a few teaspoons of ice cream. Only then did she crack a smile and give me an appreciative hug.
Even though I found it interesting that she refused to eat her cupcake, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed. Baby girl is above average in weight and height for her age group, so if she prefers healthy foods, I’m behind her all the way. If both of my daughters maintain healthy eating habits going forward, I will be overjoyed.
But helping them learn what foods are good for their little bodies will be a responsibility for me and my husband. So far, they’re making it relatively easy. On the other hand, I know that they are like little sponges – always watching what we do and say. So if I have to hide my pecan pie or cookies & cream ice cream and eat in the dark like a little rat, then so be it. It’s a sacrifice I will have to make. Or maybe my husband and I need to eliminate a few sweets from our own diets. We’ll think about it, but for now, we’ll just focus on cultivating and maintaining healthy eating habits for our little girls. I think that’s enough for right now.
Chandra Caradine is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources, and Mom to two girls.