Parents are often seen coming to the OPD with a recurrent problem of their child not eating properly. There are several babies who go through the problem of fussy eating and parents might want to develop certain strategies to get past these problems.
Most paediatricians are faced with the question “Why are babies, fussy eaters”? Dr. Babita Jain, Head- Paediatric Medicine, Max Hospital, Gurgaon, says from then toddlers’ perspective, any new food is viewed with suspicion to an extent that they can even refuse to eat a broken biscuit as it looked different from the treatment they are used to. Additionally, picky eating may also be your toddlers’ way of showing his independence as he learns to feed himself.
Our expert gives few suggestions to parents on how they can their kids enjoy the mealtime:
1. Eat well and eat together as much as possible: Whenever you can, eat as a family with your toddler. Eating together also gives you the opportunity to give your toddler plenty of attention. Also, of possible praise when they are eating well.
2. Introduce new foods gently: Offer just one new food at a time. Sometimes you may need to offer new foods for atleast 10/15 times before your toddlers is willing to try it.
3. Variety during weaning: Introduce as many foods as possible at an early age. Play games with kids on the dinner table and allow kids to play with food especially when you are introducing any new food.
4. Veggies can be tricky: Another useful trick is to allow kids to participate in buying the veggies-that familiarizes kids with the raw form of the vegetable.
5. Focus on victories: Positive reinforcement goes a long way. On the other hand getting anxious about food has negative associations with the child. Let mealtimes be the happy relaxed playful times!
6. Keep mealtimes to a set length: Toddlers usually eat as much as they're going to in the first 30 minutes of a meal. Don’t try to persuade him to eat more after this time as it is unlikely to work.
7. Keep an eye on what he drinks during the day: Milk & Juices are often the culprits and you need to keep in mind that children need only 350ml and 500ml of milk a day. Between meals, give your toddler water to drink.
8. Rewards for older kids: Give your child a sticker for eating new foods. When they have collected a few stickers, reward them with a prize.
9. Let them into the Kitchen: Children love to imitate parents and letting them help in the kitchen really helps.
10. Avoid Junk: Have a low shelf in the fridge with cut up fresh fruit and other healthy foods. When little ones are hungry, they won’t wait so it is important to keep junk food outside their reach.
11. Grow Herbs: Getting your kids growing their own herbs or sprouting seeds in little pots on window shelves can get them really excited about food.
12. Blend in the veggies: What children can’t see, they can’t pick out. Again so many recipes allow vegetables to be blended into rotis, cakes even muffins.
Finally be in constant touch with your baby’s paediatrician regarding weight gain and growth. If the growth of a child is adequate as per your paediatrician there is unlikely to worry about anything