Most parents have a tough time dealing with their toddlers during mealtimes as children start demonstrating a level of fussiness over some point of time, be it over what they eat or the fact that they have to eat at all. Sometimes they may eat enough to keep their appetite going, even if they don’t like the food. But here the amount consumed is less important than children’s liking of their diets. It needs to be ensured that the intake is not only sufficient but healthier. Well, there is not much to fret over the matter as picky eating is usually a passing phase and it gets better with time. However, without taking situations for granted, let’s understand what’s behind this and what are the probable solutions to this.
Toddlers are habituated around a particular food habit; they are likely to eat what they know. Around the age of two, this fear for new foods can develop which is termed as food neophobia. Believing this could be the root of the problem, experts say it is important that children get acquainted with what they eat so that new foods appear safe and enjoyable to them. This is done by ensuring we win their confidence, with patience, over experimenting. A proper eating environment and a healthy menu could encourage a positive attitude to make a great start for your child along with some homey tips.
1. It’s amazing when you find how children seek the slightest delight by getting involved in the planning and preparation of a meal. Obviously this is not an encouragement to let toddlers cook like ‘serious cooking’ but then there’s no harm if peeling off onions, squeezing lemon juice and even cracking eggs holds their interest. These are well within the capabilities of a child and could boost up knowledge about their daily diet, thereby, stimulating children’s appetite.
2.Instead of pushing food down throats of children, trust their abilities. Children can do wonders if their senses are well taken care of. Let children learn to be independent about what is tasty, healthy and which is not. Begin with offering them to try dishes for smelling and tasting them bit by bit.
3. Children always like variety and vibrancy. Everytime you offer that one dish to your child which he vomits out in disgust, try changing its appearance on the plate. A little decoration along with some experimentation with ingredients should work. You can make balls out of the simple spinach or cut the sandwich in geometrical shapes. Some parents hide vegetables in meals but they need to make sure that children are told about it after they’ve eaten it. If they liked it that way, they wouldn’t mind repeating it again.
4. If your child fusses too much while at the table, it is best to not pay much attention to their behavior. Experts say, your continuous nudging or irritation might encourage them to behave likewise further. Children keep behaving this way until they’ve had everybody run for them around the house.
5. Meal times should be happy times for the family. There are possibilities that children will spoil some milk or veggies around the table or under their chair but getting annoyed will only pose a poor example. Instead teach them politely on what to do about the waste, like a game, and talk about how you are happy with their good behavior.
Although getting over-concerned is harmful but parents who are genuinely facing problems with their children’s eating disorder, it is best to maintain a diary keeping notes of the food and drink they’ve been consuming. This will ensure they are having proper protein, starch or vitamin or more. You can also talk to the health visitor for support.
It is advised to not shrug this matter off as a trivial issue. Precaution is always better than cure.