Picky eating can be one of the most distressing things for parents of little kids. Fussy Eaters are normally between one to two years of age, and may last till they are three to five years old. In some cases, the tendency to be a fussy eater may continue up to five years of age and in very rare cases, continue to be there even when the child grows older.
If your little one does the same and you have a harrowing time every second day getting her/ him to eat, worry not, as there is a set of solutions that you can implement and heave a sigh of relief.
All you need to do is to first understand the fact that children being children, do not think like us adults, and are not aware of benefits of healthy eating. They would rather eat what makes them happy rather than think what’s healthy. You need to be patient, give them time and very importantly, be innovative during mealtimes.
Well, here are a few tips and tricks that can help you tide over the problem that afflicts parents of fussy eaters the world over (dealing with it as per kids’ age):
Kids Aged One to Two- Discovering Flavours of Life
This is the earliest age group of kids who earn the reputation of being a fussy eater. Children at this phase are just discovering the habits, need and wonders of eating solid foods. While this phase of fussy eaters may seem too early to get them to understand what they’re doing is not right, you need to communicate it in a simple, understandable way. Children are receptive to most the behaviours and emotions, so they will understand that refusing to eat is not acceptable.
No Arguing and Pushing:
This may be well be called the golden rule when it comes to tackling your fussy eater. Pushing children to do something too much puts them off, and if they are forced to eat what they don’t like will make things all the more undesirable.
Do what you Preach:
You should endorse what you ask children to do (eat). Therefore, eating healthy and doing all the things you’re asking them to do will motivate them to eat what you serve.
Let your Child Feel Like a Decision-Maker:
Right from the time you start preparing food, involve your child in the process; make your little one decide what should be there on the menu, what goes where on her/ his plate (e.g. peas at the left, potatoes at the right, oats/ rice in the centre, etc.), and make foods look colourful and appealing. Also, when kids are shown they are trusted enough by letting them to eat themselves, they warm up to eating even more.
A Mix of Yummy and not so Yummy:
If you serve what children like and what they don’t like much together, chances are they will eventually also eat what they don’t like much. It’s a trick that’s known to work quite well.
Avoid Bribing and Threatening:
Some parents offer a reward like sweet goodies every time children eat food, or threaten or get angry if they refuse food. Neither of the strategies work, and they are best avoided. Instead, keep in mind that children have a small appetite and don’t eat equal amount everyday, and will come and tell you directly if they are hungry.
Keep offering Foods Rejected Previously:
Don’t give up on foods that children refuse in first or second go itself. Persevere gently by presenting it to them consistently as eventually, they come around to reacting positively and try eating them.
Make Children Dine in a Group if Possible:
Children love doing things with other kids, including eating meals. That way, they’re also more likely to eat better and more as eating in the company of their peers becomes fun.
Watch out for other Reasons for Refusing Food:
Sometimes, children may not eat due to a genuine reason. If your child is ill, tired or upset over something, she/ he will refuse to eat. You need to have patience and wait for some time when that happens as forcing them to eat when they’re not in the right state of mind will not work.Some parents expect their children to eat well even when they are down with fever.Imagine how you feel when you are ill. Do you feel like eating?Don’t force feed when a child is ill.
Try ‘Food Chaining’:
This technique is smart and easy to pull off too. Food chaining simply means introducing similar foods in succession to children so they get accustomed to each recipe one by one (e.g. French Fries to baked potato puffs to mashed potatoes to spicy potato sabji) as they taste familiar and start liking all of them gradually.
Here is a food chart to offer the right foods:
Two to Three-Year Old : More Experienced and wiser!
Kids who are above two years of age are naturally more aware of things, have tried out many more recipes and know their minds better. Their physical growth at this stage slows down a bit, which happens after the first year of life. As a result, children at this stage need lesser energy for growth.
For children in this age bracket, well, you can apply most of the tips given for one-year old and also follow the pointers given below:
Take Kids out for Grocery Shopping:
Try taking your little ones out while shopping for groceries, talk to them as you would to elders while shopping and encourage them to pick a few things too. It makes children feel they are big and happy as they picked something, which they are more likely to cook with and eat.
Get them to View Cooking (involve them in simple tasks too):
This technique also works great as children love feeling they are independent and handle things like grown-ups. Also, get your children to be a part of the process of coking by delegating simple tasks (like mixing ingredients, mixing ingredients or laying the table), which they’ll surely enjoy doing..
As children grow older, try to make them feel like responsible members of the family. Explain that being big also involves eating healthy and being positive towards healthy food.
Give them a variety of foods
Yes. That means you need to put in more work. But your children need the right amount of nutrition from a wide variety of foods. Make sure you serve them fruits, veggies as per the suggested food pyramid and not just mundane food everyday.Toss some pasta with veggies, give them a mixed fruit salad, boiled pulses and legumes and also their favourite cheesy sandwiches.Your fussy eater will not get bored of the ‘same old stuff ‘ everyday.
Remember, its just a phase. If you are patient and consistent in your efforts to feed your fussy eater the right stuff,later years will be easy. Give scope to some exceptions, but never give in to your child’s unreasonable demands for fries, chocolates and bakery products.Take up the challenge to feed your child right and your ‘ fussy eaters’ will grow up to be healthy individuals.
Good luck!Happy Parenting!
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Download PDF:Food chart for 2 to 3 year
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