Feeding Your Fussy Eater

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"My daughter hardly eats. I run after her, take her to the park, use innovative methods, force or even 'bribe' her to eat, but she still doesn't. What should I do? I am frustrated and worried."

First of all, relax, you are not alone. Questions like these are a major concern for most parents with young children. Many children have eating difficulties at some point after the age of one or two. Although it is a real worry, the child doesn't even have an eating "problem" in most cases. It may be that a child who previously ate anything and everything that you gave them has now learned to discriminate. They are developing a personality of their own that can assert itself.

Boy Leaning On Sofa With Worried Face

The critical thing to remember is that children will eat when they are hungry unless they have a medical problem. If a parent has become preoccupied with a child's eating, the child can learn to control or "blackmail" the parent through it by eating or not eating. Often the first sign of illness is a loss of appetite. But under normal physical and emotional conditions, children will eat when they are hungry and stop when they've had enough.

Your child may cringe at the sight of a nutritious dinner that you have so lovingly prepared for them simply because their tummy is full of chips. It is but natural for parents to want their kids to eat foods that provide balanced nutrition. But the fact is, kids love junk food and will like having a lot of it. Don't deprive them of their after-school snacks but limit them if you expect your child to eat a full lunch/dinner. Instead, try to incorporate healthy snacks into your child's daily diet regime. Pre-school children have small appetites and can't eat a lot in one sitting. They need healthy snacks between meals that are nutrient-dense, high in energy, and easy to digest. Try limiting the quantity and go for spacing out snacks’ timings so that your child will be able to eat their regular food at mealtimes.

Mealtimes should be a pleasant experience and not a battlefield. A feeding problem is often the result of parents coercing their children to eat .It's important to note that food fussiness in preschoolers isn't only due to a lack of appetite or a "sluggish liver"; it may also be an attention-seeking behavioural pattern.

Make Every Effort To Make Your Child Look Forward To Mealtimes.

You, as a parent, can help your child to be confident. Start with small decisions such as what to wear to play school or what toy to play with. Giving only two or three options will give them some control in making the decision without overwhelming them with too many choices. Don't give options for things that are mandatory and unavoidable. For instance, when it comes to consuming soup or green vegetables.

Parents always have the compelling urge to make the choice for their children at the first sign of indecisiveness. Resist. Don't lay out your child's playschool clothes in the morning. Let them choose from a couple of outfits. Tell them the positives and negatives of both. This will translate to an important lesson about the concept of decision-making and will also give them a sense of control.

Unless your child makes a decision that is destructive, allow them the freedom to experience the consequences of their actions. For instance, if they decide not to eat their dinner, they will have to suffer the consequence of not getting a dessert.

Mom feeding her kid

1. Give your child food that they like the most (amongst the nutritious ones) around 2 to 3 times per week and omit all the foods they dislike. This will make them less suspicious and tense about mealtimes and get them to be happy at the dining table.

2. If your baby eats small portions, don't worry. Each child is different. Also, remember that day-to-day intake of food may vary just like your appetite does.

3. Try smaller portions (serve less than what you think your child will eat). Piles of food can often turn off a child's appetite.

4. Refusal to eat fruits and vegetables is a widespread problem. Make them more tempting and fun but do not camouflage a detested food by mixing it with something else. For instance, cutting vegetables in fun shapes may turn previously rejected vegetables into food that's fun to eat. A child should eat because he or she wants to and not for any other reason.

5. Children should be encouraged to feed themselves. Often parents of fussy eaters feel that their children will eat more if they feed them. Consequently, they start equating being fed with love, and when the parents stop feeding at some point, children might view this as a rejection and stop eating. Eventually, the parents give in and resume feeding. What does the child learn through this process? Manipulation.

One hears countless stories about the ploys used by parents to get their children to eat. Some must tell them a new story with each mouthful; some might have to take them outside to distract them; some have to bribe them with gifts. These tactics are not advisable. Bribes indicate to the child that eating is an unpleasant activity and they must be compensated for it.

The key to tackling fussy eaters is to be patient. The more worried and anxious you are, the less likely is your child to eat. It takes time for children to develop good eating habits. A certain amount of freedom concerning their diet should be allowed by adopting a relaxed attitude. The best thing to do is to set an example by demonstrating good habits. Reduce your intake of chips, soft drinks and junk food, and see the magic unfold!

In the meantime, try to bridge any potential nutritional gaps in their diets by introducing a tasty health drink such as Junior Horlicks in their daily routine. #Junior Horlicks includes nutrients that support brain development, such as choline, iron, and iodine. It also contains nutrients that support physical growth, such as calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and proteins, and also nutrients to support healthy immune function such as Vitamin E, A, Selenium & Copper.

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