“If you don’t finish your vegetables, you will not be strong enough to play and never as tall as your best friend.” This is a typical conversation many parents have with their fussy eating children over lunch or dinner.
For many parents, fussy eating in children is a major problem and they often worry about their children not getting adequate nutrition. However, it is quite common for children to be fussy eaters and extremely picky about what they eat, which means, to not like the shape, colour or texture of particular foods. It’s also common for children to like a certain dish one day and hate it the next, or to refuse new foods. Eating or not eating something is their way of trying to take a stand for their personal independence.
As your child grows older, his fussy eating habits change. But until then, try these 10 useful tips to help your child develop healthy eating habits for adequate nutrition.
Useful Tips To Handle Fussy Eating
#1. Don’t Force Feed Your Child
One of the biggest mistakes a parent can make when it comes to fussy eating is forcing a child to eat. If your child isn’t hungry at all, there is no point trying to force it. Yes, it is important for your child to prioritise meal and snack times as it makes them understand hunger better. However, start by waiting for him to ask for a meal. When a child is hungry, he will let you know.
All you need to do is understand your child’s hunger signals. Observe how your child behaves around mealtimes. It is absolutely normal for children to prefer some foods over others.
#2. The Family Table
Sitting together and eating as a family should start as soon as the child begins solids. Make sure you do not pass comments or put pressure on your child. Let your child eat the way he wants to.
#3. Don’t Serve Large Meals
Do you get overwhelmed when someone serves you a plate full of food or more food than you could possibly eat? If this happens to adults, it is only logical that it would happen to a child as well. Serve small portions of everything that is prepared, so that your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed and can eat at his own pace.
#4. Limit Snacks
A growing child needs three square meals in a day and 1 or 2 snacks. However, parents of fussy eaters often find themselves giving their children extra snacks as proper meals are never finished properly. One strategy you can use is to limit the number of snacks you give to your kids. The hungrier a child is, the more likely he is to eat whatever meal is served for him.
#5. Get Your Child Involved
Right from grocery shopping, to picking out fresh vegetables and fruits to cleaning the vegetables and cooking them, make your child feel like he is in control of what will be served for lunch or dinner.
Although your child can’t help you chop the vegetables or actually cook the food, allow him to add the condiments and masalas so that he feels like he is contributing to the process. If he feels like he is a huge part of the cooking process, he will definitely want to eat what he has cooked.
#6. Make Food Interesting
Colourful foods can easily catch your child’s attention and he will be more than willing to try out brightly coloured foods. The easiest way to add colour to your food is by giving your child colourful dips. It may be messy, but it will be worth it when you child eats it. You can also buy some cookies cutters to get the desired shape you want out of sandwiches or ever even rotis and parathas. Also, keep offering new foods to your child – something they have not tried before.
#7. Repeat The Same Food
As mentioned above, your child might enjoy a dish one day and hate it the very next day. So, just because your child refuses to eat something a few times doesn’t mean that he will refuse it always. You can try cooking it in a different manner as well. Don’t throw away the food that your child refuses to eat and save it for later. Serve the same thing of dinner again instead of giving him a snack. Soon, your child will realise that he can’t skip certain foods for a packet of crisps or other similar snacks.
#8. Change Your Cooking Style
The fact that your child doesn’t eat at home but loves to eat outside or at the neighbours means that he may not be enjoying your style of cooking. Trying adding new spices and removing a few and really focus on which tastes your child enjoys best to replicate a similar taste in most of your dishes.
#9. Lead With Example
Even as adults, there are some things that we don’t particularly enjoy eating. For example, you may not like the taste of broccoli but you eat it for its health benefits. If you make a face while eating it and complain about its taste, your child will definitely think it’s okay to not eat it. So, pretend to enjoy eating something that you don’t like, so that your kids will eat it too.
Watch this video to have your fussy eating queries answered by and expert.
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