Dr. C. Aparna
Senior consultant and Head Department of Neonatology,
KIMS Cuddles, Kondapur
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.