It is not rare to find mealtimes becoming war scenes with parents having to use force, threat and bribery to make their toddler eat. Are there tricks to make fussy eaters adopt a more healthy eating habit?
The reason for this is because of fear of new food items, often called neophobia which most toddlers experience. This leads to a reluctance to try them. Most children will experience neophobia around the age of two. Rest assured that it’s a phase that will pass.
Some ways to manage
Eat as a family: Toddlers learn a lot by copying or imitating their parents’ acts. Trying to make time to eat with them goes a long way in making them learn healthy habits. Stop preparing food separately for your child
Stay positive and appreciate when child eats: Try to motivate the child by making positive remarks like “The food is so yummy..” whenever possible
Respect your child’s appetite: Do not force or bribe the child to eat when he/ she is disinterested. This may only reinforce a power struggle for food
Stick to routine: Offer meals or drinks at a regular time every day. Keeping a regular time schedule may tremendously help in improving your child’s appetite.
Make eating fun: Try to make eating fun – cut vegetables or broccoli into interesting shapes to make it attractive to the child. Serve the child food with variety of colors, sauce and vegetables
Minimise distractions: Avoid electronic gadgets during meals. This will help your child focus on eating.Television advertising might also encourage your child to desire sugary or less nutritious foods.
Involve your child: Recruit your child’s help in selecting fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. One must not buy anything that the child does not wish.
Introduce new food items alongside familiar foods: Introduce a small amount of unfamiliar or new food item on the plate with familiar food your child already likes to eat – for example, a piece of brinjal alongside some mashed carrot which your child already likes
Most importantly, set an example for your child as a responsible parent.