Health and Nutrition,  parenting

How to make your little fussy eaters eat

 

Kiddie A doesn’t want to sit on the dining table for her dinner. Kiddie B wants to lob away the new food being given to him. Kiddie C wants to relish cookies and chips for lunch and Kiddie D eats less food or no food at all.

All the mammas out there, can you totally relate to these eating problems? Which one of them is yours? Well! mine is A and B most of the times, C at some of the times, but definitely D at all the times. (Ha-ha!) Every type of kid has their own set of problems and every kind of mamma has her own set of explanations. By far the most important thing is not to LOOSE YOUR MIND over these situations. Pick your kid type from the above and let us discuss the reasons only to find the solutions for it. I hope some of my tips might help you to overcome the everyday power struggles over the tables.

KIDDIE A – They don’t want to sit on the dining table and eat.

Reasons:

  1. They are human batteries that are always charged up. At times, it becomes very difficult to make them sit at one place for a long go (long go equals to 5 mins max) Don’t blame them but welcome them to the toddler-hood.
  2. Somethings or some games are distracting them during meals.
  3. Your everyday forceful eating sessions make them fear away from the sight of it.
  4. Meal times aren’t fun times for them at the boring dining table.
  5. You make them eat first before anyone else. It is normal because you want to concentrate on feeding them first and then having your relaxed meal. But trust me, it can be really boring if you eat alone.

Solutions:

  1. Engage them in some energy releasing activities before their mealtimes so that they are just a step closer of being exhausted and not completely exhausted to have their meals.
  2. Let them finish the game they are playing or promise to play WITH them once they are done eating.
  3. Don’t force feed them – here, follow the Newton’s third law of motion; every REACTION has an equal and OPPOSITE reaction. The more you force, the more they resist.
  4. Occasionally, it is okay to make them eat somewhere else. The change of environment can be fun too. It can be a picnic in the garden, or a dinner date in their room. My daughter loves to eat with her toys in her tent-house.
  5. Dining together should be a ritual at your home. Kids love to imitate their siblings, elders and it’s a great way to make them eat properly at a fixed place. Eating with peers at day care or schools is a 100% guaranteed solution to this problem.

KIDDIE B – They want to throw away the new food.

Reasons:

  1. Sometimes we purposely make a dish of their choice repeatedly during the week. It is because we want them to eat whatever they like and avoid the hassle. But in reality, we are over exposing them to that particular food, thus making it difficult for them to try new food.
  2. In scientific terms we can talk about FOOD NEOPHOBIA – this means they are reluctant to try new foods. This usually happens around 2 to 6 years of age. So, we really need to understand this.
  3. Sometimes, kids are over-exhausted to try new You know how it feels when you simply don’t have the strength to do something new. Well! kids are humans too.

Solutions:

  1. I know this advice can be little late for moms with older toddlers but a blessing for new moms. Expose them to the new varieties of food right from the beginning. As babies, they love to try new flavors and textures but gradually the pickings develops with the age.
  2. Make a meal planner for your family. This will help you to include all the 5 food groups in the right proportions during the week. Again, it will also avoid all the everyday hassles to think what to cook.
  3. Let them try out new food on their own. Put a bit in their plate. Experts say that it takes 10 to 15 exposures of the new food before they develop a taste. Or u just might be lucky if they like it in the first go.
  4. Make them eat a new variety at the early hours of the day. These are the times when they are happy, playful and content. So, experiments at the dinner is not a cool idea.

 

KIDDIE C – They want to eat junks for all the time.

Reasons: Seriously! Do you really want to know the reason for that?

  1. Because Smileys are much tastier than Spinach and candies taste better than courgette.
  2. When hunger strikes your kid (or anyone else in this world), it is a human nature to savor high sugary/salty foods as to meet instant energy. This craving is totally natural (and worldwide! Ask yourself.)
  3. If your kitchen or fridge resembles a supermarket shelf of confectioneries, obviously you can’t stop them from snatching at the chance.
  4. Kids are known to be attracted to anything colorful and vibrant. Just compare the packaging of Doritos and that of Drum sticks.

Solutions:

  1. Try to experiment with the food you serve. You can make them cheese pasta but with spinach purée, carrots and beets patties in the burger, oats and dates cake , lentil soup with bread sticks etc.
  2. Have a consistent eating schedule at your home. This includes nourishing 3 big meals and 2 snacks evenly distributed throughout the day. Even if they miss a snack, (I know it’s hard) but don’t let them eat before their next mealtime. In a few days, they will get accustomed and will naturally feel hungry during those times (not too hungry).
  3. Stock your fridge with healthy stuff If you don’t have junks in your kitchen, you don’t have junks in your tummy. (Simple! Isn’t it?)
  4. Sometimes fancy plates and cups can make a HUGE difference. My daughter loves to try new fruits using her animal-shaped forks and spoons.

 

KIDDIE D: They eat less food or no food at times.

Reasons:

  1. The size of their tummy is very small. Imagine their closed fist and imagine how much food you want to stuff in it.
  2. Growth spurts, teething, sickness or even change in their environment can trigger their food preferences. During hot summers, my daughter loves to eat cold salads, pasta and fruit smoothies. Now, I can’t expect her to finish lunch after having a big bowl of watermelon chunks. Can I?
  3. Grazing all throughout the day can make them less hungry during meal times. Continuous nibbling on cookies, juices or fruits make them lose their appetite.
  4. Having large amount of liquids right before meals can make them full.
  5. Snacking on high calorie foods like sweets and colas can be one of the reasons for their dislike towards healthy foods.

Solutions:

  1. Give them the right serving size of food. Considering their age, it will be very less as compared to ours. For example; half a bread equals one part of whole grains (for 2-3-year old) and they need to have 5 portions a day only. Make sure you follow the nutritional dietary guidelines.
  2. Respect the times when their appetite changes due to many reasons. Understand their cues when hungry or full. If your kid is hungry, HE WON’T STARVE. Fussing over it make things more difficult for both of you. Just make sure, whatever he eats is healthy and nutritious.
  3. Even if they graze all day long, they are getting all the nutrients. But try to cultivate the good habits of eating at the right times.
  4. Liquids like juices and milk should be a part of their snacks (not meals). Personally, I prefer fruits over juices because fiber gets lost in the process. Having warm turmeric milk before bedtime is a must ritual for my daughter. Like I said before, consistency is the key. Now she doesn’t sleep without her glass of milk.
  5. Whenever they want to munch on snacks, keep in the mind that they are having only healthy ones. Examples; a piece of carrot cake, cheese slices, veggie sticks with humus, fruit salad or assorted nuts.

 

Universal Truth: Sometimes kids throw tantrums at the table just to get your attention. They definitely find a pleasure to get a rise out of you.

Universal Solution: “Over-reaction is the enemy of good parenting. This includes both the extremities of positive as well as negative reactions.” – moodsofmamma. Praising them for every bite makes them crave for the compliments, not for the food. Likewise, PROMISING them to give sweets after finishing their plates gives them a wrong message that “SWEETS ARE BETTER THAN WHAT THEY ARE EATING RIGHT NOW”. Just don’t make a fuss about healthy and unhealthy food. Expose them or make them eat healthy food more. Don’t over react to unhealthy foods as it may only trigger their attraction for something forbidden. Talk about the benefits and the harmful effects of different varieties.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to bribe or reward them to make them eat properly. But make sure to bargain them with non-food items like letting them play in the mud, taking them to the zoo/ park or promising them a play-date at your home.

And sometimes it is okay to treat them with goodies. Maybe you can let them have a lick on ice cream or Popsicle after dinner or serve them mini pizza for snack. Occasionally, I give my daughter a pack of chips, or chocolates after her lunch. You need to see the glow on their little messy faces. What an irresistible sight! But again! Don’t make a fuss about it.

 

 

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