Parents living in the 1800s fed their children for nourishment only. They would have been appalled to see all the sugary and processed foods children eat today.
INFORMATION BELOW FROM 1800s COOKBOOKS:
Children, in general, have very excellent appetites, and a sufficiency of nourishing food is absolutely necessary—not merely to renew the waste of their systems, but also to supply materials for their daily growth.
Three, or perhaps four, light meals a day, will be found a good allowance during childhood.
At one of these—the dinner, or mid-day meal—animal food may be allowed in moderation. For the others, bread, or potatoes, and milk, various preparations of rice, or rice and milk, plain bread pudding, and custard, form a proper and wholesome diet. All salted and high-seasoned food should be forbidden. Some have objected to butter for children, although experience would appear to show that a very moderate allowance of fresh butter is by no means injurious.
Of vegetables—potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets, and cauliflowers, will be found most wholesome. They should be well boiled, and the potatoes and turnips eaten without being mashed, or mixed with butter or fat gravy.
Children should never be indulged in pastry of any kind. They may, occasionally, take a little of the cooked fruit of a pie, but even this should be in moderation.
The drink of children should be simply water, milk, whey, or very weak tea, milk, and sugar. All stimulating and fermenting liquors are not only unnecessary, but positively injurious. By increasing, to an improper extent, the circulation of the blood, they induce fever, indigestion, inflammation, or convulsions.
The period of the meals should be strictly regulated, and in such a manner that the intervals between them should not be so great as to permit the children to experience, at any time, a sensation of hunger. Supper should be taken an hour or two before bed-time. Children should get their breakfasts as soon as possible after they have arisen, and have been properly combed and washed. The stomach is then empty, and the appetite keen. If food be too long withheld, the cravings become either too importunate, or the appetite fails—either of which would be injurious.
As little variety of food as possible should be set before children, since every extraordinary article becomes a new incentive to appetite. They should never be indulged with a second course. If they sit down with an appetite, they will satisfy it by eating of the first articles presented to them. If the appetite be trifling, the less they eat at the time the better; as by taking but little, the appetite will more certainly return at the next meal.
Children should not be allowed to eat frequently of bread and butter, bread and molasses, cakes, or fruit, between meals, for this will either destroy the regular appetite or induce them to eat too much. They should not be suffered to carry food in their pockets to eat between meals, or during school hours, as this produces the injurious habit of requiring food at improper times. The digestion of the previous meal is interfered with—a fresh quantity of food being forced upon the stomach before it has properly digested that which had been before received.
Children are to be restrained from any violent exercise immediately after dinner; if not kept in a state of perfect rest, they should at least be prevented from engaging in any pastime which requires considerable bodily exertion. They should also be early taught the importance of eating slowly and chewing their food well. On this account alone, the habit of resting after a meal is of importance, as it prevents them from swallowing their food hastily, in order that they may return more quickly to their play.
In regulating the diet of children, care should be taken not to force any particular article upon them, after it is found, by a fair trial, not to agree with their stomach. At the same time, however, great care must be taken that permanent dislikes are not formed, at this period of life, against certain wholesome articles of food. Children should never be suffered to eat alone, unless the proper quantity of food be meted out to them; otherwise, they will eat too much. If a child demand more than is judged proper for it, its importunities should always be resisted with firmness, or it will certainly acquire habits of gluttony.
If you struggle to get your children to eat healthy foods, you may want to check out the book:
Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Parent’s Handbook. (available on Amazon).