Transcript: Healthy Eating Habits During Your Child’s Early Years

This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Promoting Healthy Eating Habits During Your Child’s Early Years and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.

Not surprisingly, the topics of healthy eating and raising your children in a healthy nurturing environment has come up on a number of occasions on First Time Mum’s Chat. In this week’s episode, I’ll be focusing on why these are so important to you and your family.

During this episode, you’ll hear me reference a number of earlier First Time Mum’s Chat episodes and I’ll include links to these past episodes in the show notes. So please listen to the conclusion and I’ll let you know where you can find them.

During this episode, you’ll hear me talk about the dangers of feeding your family processed food and caffeinated drinks, ways to encourage more family time and to avoid screen time during meal times, why role playing is so vital when it comes to setting your children on the road to a lifetime of healthy eating, how you can avoid and reduce the risk of overeating and obesity by encouraging healthy eating habits.

And so, so much more…

Dieticians and health coaches will tell you that healthy eating and having a healthy environment are important factors when getting started on your parenting journey. This, in conjunction with everything else you are getting used to, makes it daunting for many of the mums I speak with.

They often hear mentions of such items as the importance of breastfeeding and how to avoid artificial food but what does this mean and why is it so important? In Australia, where I’m located, since COVID, there has never been a more challenging time for families to eat healthy, as the cost of groceries continue to climb. I’m certain that those of you located in North America, or the UK, or wherever you are located, are seeing the same trends and going through the same hard times.

So this leads into the first topic I want to talk about, which is junk food. These are foods with little to no nutritional value, which of course are cheaper than healthy food. These are increasingly in demand in these frugal times that we’re currently in. You need to ask yourself, what effect does this have on my child’s health? These foods can cause many health problems at an early age, including sleep disturbances, diabetes, constipation and obesity. It is important to start your little one on the road to healthy eating as soon as possible.

I highly encourage you to breastfeed where possible. I realise this isn’t always possible and some mothers face challenges. Mums who breastfeed their babies for 6 months or more are giving them a great start in life. This is due to breastfed babies having fewer infections and hospitalizations than formula fed babies. During breastfeeding, antibodies and other germ fighting factors pass from mother to baby to help strengthen their immune system. This also helps reduce the chance of a baby getting many infections including ear infections.

If you are a mother who is having a hard time with breastfeeding and are looking for help, then you will find the interviews I’ve done with lactation consultants such as Lacy Reason and Dr. Cindy Rubin, particularly helpful and I’ll also include links to these in this episode’s show notes.

When you start to introduce your little one to solids, try to avoid the trap of buying processed foods since they are not good for your baby. I highly suggest making extra food when preparing meals for your family and then freezing it, so you have something you can take out quickly to give to your little one when you’re out and about.

I’m a big believer in giving your child the opportunity to taste a variety of different foods and this way, you are giving them the chance to use their taste buds and develop a taste for healthy eating early on. In one of the earliest episodes of the podcast, I interviewed Lydia Nuttall, a food and lifestyle consultant, who shared some excellent tips, which you won’t want to miss.

I’ve included a link to this interview and others around this topic in the show notes, and I highly recommend checking them out. When introducing solids to your child, carbonated fizzy drinks are not advisable as they are high in sugar and provide no nutrients. The same also applies to fast and processed foods since these are often high in saturated fat, sugar as well as sodium.

Babies do not need lots of calories but they do require lots of nutrients. Please avoid giving them artificial foods, particularly when they are under 2 years of age, since these foods can interfere with their hormones, growth and development. It is far better to introduce them to healthy, natural food and drink. These do not necessarily need to be expensive. Simple, plain food such as fresh fish and salad or fresh fruit and vegetables will fit the bill.

If you decide to buy tinned and processed food, please always ensure you check the label to see what goes in them. I’ve been absolutely horrified when I’ve looked at some of the ingredients listed on tins and packages. It often reads more like a science laboratory. There are no shortage of ideas on social media on the topic of healthy eating, with tons of inexpensive ideas. So, I highly suggest spending some time doing some searching to see what is around. I suggest giving your growing child modest portions since this will help them to develop healthy eating habits whilst reducing the risk of overeating and obesity, which are so prevalent in our societies nowadays. It is also far more likely that your child will receive all the necessary nutrients at the same time.

When I was a child, my parents always used to tell me to eat what was on my plate before ever asking for more and not to leave food on my plate. When I reflect back on this, I’ve realised that it has led to issues which have carried through to my adult life, often resulting in me overeating. Why? I think it’s because, subconsciously, I feel guilty if I don’t eat everything on my plate. Yes, I have learnt to recognise the pattern and the reasons behind it and it’s interesting seeing how these things in life can lead to behaviours such as this on autopilot.

I highly encourage you to let your child eat when they are hungry and not force feed them based around your timetable or schedule. Force feeding them won’t encourage healthy eating but letting them experiment with different foods is a much better idea. Whilst it can be extremely annoying to us as parents, they may just like to feel the food and throw it on the floor, which is all part of the process of learning to eat and taste their food.

If you’ve been a listener of First Time Mum’s Chat for some time, you’ll know that I’m very anti television, smartphone and tablets when it comes to looking after children. I do, of course, realise that being of a generation where these didn’t exist during my upbringing gave me an experience and, in my opinion, an advantage, that many parents today will never have.

They’ve never known any different in their lifetime. I highly encourage you to structure your mealtimes as a family occasion, with all members of your family at the table and keeping this completely free of all these types of devices. I know that it’s hard today with smartphones. representing almost an additional appendage for many of us.

I’m guilty of this, and seem to be spending more and more time in front of the television in the evening whilst having my meals. It’s worth making the effort though, and it will encourage family interaction, closeness and bonding, which are so important. It can also help set up boundaries and expectations for their adult lives which I feel is extremely beneficial.

I’ve included a link to an episode I did with Melissa Lowry, the principal of a school in Atlanta, Georgia, and you’ll want to hear what she had to say about the early influence of technology on children and families. I also spoke about this in an earlier episode of the podcast, which I’ve also included a link to.

I think we can learn a lot from countries such as France, where the whole process of having meals is very much a family interaction, and perhaps from cultures where the extended family is still very prevalent, such as parts of Asia. I still recall listening to an interview on the BBC with a French chef living in the UK who, when questioned by the interviewer about the longevity of the French population, cited this very thing about the family centred culture.

After all, where is the pleasure in eating when you are glued to a smartphone or watching television? Wouldn’t you rather sit down at your dining room table with a nice cup of coffee, glass of water, or even wine, and savour every bite of your mouthwatering creation! European cultures see eating as a pleasure and their surroundings are pleasurable because of this.

I also encourage you to be a role model for your kids and involve them in preparing and serving meals for your family to eat. This will not only help them learn healthy eating habits, but it will also encourage them to listen and communicate with others. I feel we have lost the art of conversation and communication in today’s world and this is a great first step in preventing this from occurring.

I hope I’ve motivated you during this episode towards healthy eating and why a healthy environment is so important for you and your family. I highly encourage you to listen to the earlier First Time Mum’s Chat episodes that I mentioned and I’ve included links to them in the show notes, which can be found at

I share each episode on the First Time Mum’s Chat Instagram page, and you’ll hear me chatting live with folks I’ve interviewed from time to time. Please support me by following me and I look forward to meeting you during one of my lives.

Next week, I’ll be talking with mum of two, birth and postpartum doula and registered nurse, Janet Purcell, who will be talking about how she helps mums with their comfort during birth and postpartum. Be sure to listen to this episode when it comes out next week and please subscribe to First Time Mum’s Chat via your favourite platform so that you can get quick and easy access to all our episodes when they are live.