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Here is a secret from the world of business marketing you can use to help your toddler build healthy eating habits. I heard about this from a colleague of mine recently. I was thinking about it over the weekend when it occurred to me that it could be applied to building healthy eating habits. In fact, you could consider it for most parenting situations.

Think of companies and brands that you are a fan of. What do they do well to keep you coming back to their products and services? Surely, a lot of companies have good products that meet your needs, but there are some in particular which you keep going back to over and over again.Not only that, you tell your friends about them and get them hooked too! How could it be that they have figured out a way to have you keep doing what they want you to do – that is keep buying their products, sometimes even without thinking!

The secret is CONSISTENCY!

Consistent quality and service builds trust and a natural desire in the customer to keep reaching out for the product. Miss on either quality or service a few times and you lose the customer for good in today’s competitive world. The top companies have figured it out how to do it consistently over and over again. Of course, it does not happen overnight and takes a lot of effort to build.

So how can it be applied to building healthy eating habits in toddlers?

Just like building a bedtime routine at the end of the day, consistency at mealtimes helps your toddler to latch on to foods and behaviors you want him to develop. Here are a few tips for you to try consistently:

  1. Eat dinner as a family and only offer whatever you have prepared for yourself. No need for a special Kids Menu at home (via Sandi of @5and1).
  2. Make the environment fun and stress-free. Play is the secret ingredient of success at mealtime!
  3. Don’t wait until everyone, including your child, is starving to begin dinner. Timing is critical so a little planning will help tremendously.
  4. By the same token, avoid forcing your child to sit down and have dinner with you if he just had a snack because of a change in schedule or something else.
  5. Understand the division of responsibility in feeding to unleash the true power of family meals, according to Dr Kathleen Cuneo of Dinner Together. Your job is to put food on the plate; let your child decide whether and how much to eat.
  6. Make only a few ground rules for both adults and children. Too many rules don’t work, plus they are very hard to enforce. Be a role model yourself and ask help from others in the family to stick to them at mealtime.
  7. Avoid talking about food as good or bad. If it is on the table, it is good enough to eat even if the nutritional value is not so good. Nutritional value is best considered before the food reaches your table!
  8. Keep everything same or nearly the same each day. No need to be spontaneous about the seating arrangements.
  9. If the TV is usually on, let it be even if you are tempted to turn it off after reading in a book!
  10. Stay flexible, everybody including your child can have a bad day!

Consistency takes practice and perseverance. But it can be extremely rewarding in the long run.

Moms, what your most useful tips for building healthy eating habits? Share in comments below.

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