Do you wonder why your child is a fussy eater, and his siblings were great with food. It’s completely normal for a child to not like a particular food. It could be because of the taste, shape or even color. Its also normal to like something one day and not like it on another. While fussing about food, they are trying to explore their environment and asserting their independence. Depending on their activity their appetite goes up and down and hence the tantrums.
Children are playful, the very nature of their being. They are too busy exploring to eat and they assert their independence in choosing what they want to eat. They learn by testing their boundaries of what’s accepted and what’s not. It all a part of learning and growing up. Here are a few tips to help with overcoming fussy eating
SETTING A DESIGNATED PLACE AND TIME
Make meal times fun and enjoyable. Cook their favorite meal and try not to impose too many rules – like spilling food or messing up the place.
- Be appreciative of every effort being made. Remember, it all starts small from a morsel to a mouthful.
- Don’t force your child to try a new food, there will be plenty of opportunities to try them. The more we force them, the more they fuss
- Paying attention to all the fussing is like encouraging your child further, try and ignore it as much as you can.
- Keep away from TV and gadgets during meal times and talk to each other – will encourage the child to participate
- Decorate food in creative ways – that will encourage your child to eat. For example – make a face on the dosa or chapati with sauce/gravy
- With COVID washing hands frequently has already become a thing. Use this opportunity to start a hand-wash routine before meal time.
INDEPENDENCE WITH FOOD
To improve eating habits, make your child feel in control. Give a healthy choice of food and let them choose what they want and how much of it. For this method to be effective limit the choice to a maximum of 2 to 3. For example – instead of asking to pick from a range of vegetables, ask “would you like carrot or peas?”
- Get them involved in cooking a meal and they could help with picking the dish for the day, washing vegetables and fruits and making a plain salad or a raita. Kids eventually are proud of helping out and will eat what they helped preparing
- Sometimes, it is also true that the child has not even tasted a food and yet hates it. They might be doing it just to see what happens and assert their independence. The best way out of this is to stay calm and ignore it. Try giving the same food again at a later time.
PUNISHMENTS WITH FOOD
- Punishing your child when they don’t eat their food might not be a good thing to do. Sometimes it creates aversion to a food and turn that food into a negative thing.
- If your child doesn’t eat something at the table, take it away and try again another time
- Most kids are very good at guilt tripping and we end up giving them treats to help with healthy food. This will only interest him in eating junk instead of healthy food, and makes them feel like eating healthy is a task.
- Also, if they do not finish their food during a meal time, its ok. As most kids find it overwhelming to finish food within a specified time. Make sure they are not given anything till the next meal time. This also helps in setting the body clock and adjust to the schedules.
It’s all about being patient with your child and playing along. They will learn what is right and what is not. Give them enough freedom to explore their world and make them feel important.