Are you the parent of a picky eater? Don’t worry. Don’t be sad. Don’t get depressed. As almost every child is a picky eater at some point in life.
Picky eating is actually a developmental stage in childhood and it emerges from “Neophobia” which is the fear of trying new foods. Neophobia is a protective mechanism of the body that keeps curious babies from eating things that could be poisonous and harmful.
Most children become picky eaters or fussy eaters around the age of 1 year. This is because at this time they are learning that they have the power to say “No” and they are enthusiastic to experiment with this power. Also at this point, they are beginning to be able to move around a bit and so their focus shifts from food to the exciting things in the world around them that they can now crawl to and touch.
As a parent, you are probably worried about how your child will miss out on essential vitamins and minerals if she/he remains a picky eater – but actually, there is no need to panic.
Here Are 10 Tips To Tackle Your Picky Eater
1. Do not get into fights over food
The most important thing to understand about fussy eating is – that it is a phase and it will pass. If you fight with your child over eating something she/he does not want to eat – you will turn this normal stage into a power struggle which you can never win.
2. Give your child lots of attention
Spend time playing and interacting with your child throughout the day not just at mealtimes. If your child discovers that you are going to spend time with her/him only when you have bowl and spoon in your hands – your child will ensure that he/she eats slowly so that you don’t go away quickly.
Also read about: Fibre Rich Indian Foods.
3. Set a good example
If you want your child to eat healthy food – you will have to eat too. A parent who skips meals or just eats something to keep going is setting a wrong precedent for the child who gets the message that eating healthy food and nourishing the body – is not important.
4. Have routine
Do not feed your child all day. Have a routine where there are 3 meals and 3 snacks scheduled through the day. Serve the meals and snacks at the designated times. End meal times in 30 minutes and snack times in 20 minutes. Jus clear the table. A child who is hungry will eat what is required in that much time. Sitting in front of the plate after that – is just a power struggle.
5. Don’t give your child too many beverages
Beverages or liquids – fill your child’s tiny stomach up and result in your child never being hungry. Small quantities of milk should be part of one or two snack times. Fruit should ideally be eaten whole and it is best to avoid fruit juice.
6. Keep offering the same healthy food
If your child does not eat a certain healthy food the first time – don’t panic and remove it from the list of foods that you are offering. Keep offering the food. Your child will first need to get used to the sight of the food, then its smell, then its taste, then its texture and then finally will he/she actually begin to eat the food. This means that you will have to offer the food you want your child to eat at least 10 – 15 times before she/he eats it.
Also, read about: Veg GM Diet Plan.
7. Offer small portions
In your enthusiasm to keep your baby healthy and ensure that she/he gains weight and grows tall – do not try to feed your child too much. Offer tiny portions so that it looks manageable to your child and doesn’t scare her/him
8. Have fun with food
Children who want to explore the world and everything that it has to offer find eating 6 times a day very boring. Ensure that mealtimes are interesting. Serve food in nice plates with colourful spoons and glasses. Give food items fancy interesting and funny names. Arrange the food in a circle one time, in a triangle the next time and in a butterfly shape after that. Its an easy way to bring a smile to your little ones face.
9. Do not offer alternatives or bribes
If your child does not eat – understand that she/he is probably not hungry at that time. Do not bribe your child by saying that you will allow her/him to eat a junk food item if the meal is finished. Also do not rush to replace the healthy meal with junk food. A child who is not eating – is not eating. Allow her/him to miss that meal so that he/she is hungry for the next one.
10. Do not hesitate to ask for help
If you are really worried about your child’s weight gain, height gain, digestion issues or behavioural problems – reach out for help. I can assure you that consultations really help. A lot of parents reach out to me for help and go back relived and cheerful after that because they now know what to worry about and what not to worry about. They also understand what to do in specific situations and how to get through this developmental phase.
Also, read about: 16 Important Vaccinations That Must Be Given To Your Baby.