The starting point in controlling your child's intake of sweets and soft drinks is to set a limit on how much of such food she's allowed each day.
Speak to your family doctor, who can guide you on appropriate amounts; whatever you decide is the right maximum amount for your child, keep that quota clear in your mind.
Here's the thing: no matter how much you control her intake of chocolate at home, you face the uphill struggle when, say, she goes to her friend's party.
Take heart! An occasional over-indulgence in sweets won't harm your child unduly, especially if it happens infrequently. By all means, suggest to your excited tot that she shouldn't munch every sweet in sight, but accept that she'll probably forget your instructions the minute the party begins.
And that's the thing about parenting - your child won't always be the most obedient, and being uptight about it simply stresses you out unnecessarily.
That said, back at home, use practical strategies such as keeping sweets and chocolates out of your child's sight; instead of buying large bags of sweets, buy smaller bags and smaller individual bottles of fizzy drinks. The less sweets and chocolate there are in the house, the less likely she is to eat them.
Encourage her to eat healthier food - develop her taste for fresh fruits instead of sugary sweets, chopped fresh vegetables instead of chocolate bars, chilled water instead of cola or lemonade. It's only habit that drives her towards sugary products.
Know when to loosen the strings, but also when to tighten them - for one, set a good example yourself. It's difficult to expect your child to eat carrots instead of crisps when she watches you munch your way through an entire bag.
Have a tactful word with relatives and caregivers who look after your tyke. Explain that you're encouraging healthy eating habits, and would prefer them to offer her only the sweets that you give them to offer her.
If everyone works together, sugary food products won't play too major a part in your young child's diet.
Teeth-care to-dos for tots
Smilefocus explains best practices for your child.
Starting from the time the first tooth erupts, gently brush your child's teeth (or even better, help him or her do it) with less than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, morning and night.
Be sure that they spit out any flouride toothpaste.
Focus on teeth that contact tightly together - such as between "baby" molars - at least once or twice a week.
3. Regular check-ups
Your child should see a dentist by their first birthday (many kids get cavities as early as age 2!), then every 6 months thereafter, or according to the dentist's suggestion based on your child's risks.
By Dr. Richard C. Woolfson, additional reporting by Pinky Chng, The Finder Kids (Volume 18), March 2017
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