Fussy eating in children is completely normal. It’s a phase that we’ve all gone through, causing much grief to our parents. As the circle of life continues, it’s now your turn to deal with kids who are picky eaters.
While it’s not a problem you need to be overly worried about, it is something that should be dealt with as early as possible, so as to ensure that your child grows up with healthy eating habits.
Most children develop an aversion for fruits and veggies, which are essential for growth. Kids who are fussy about meals and throw tantrums can suffer from malnutrition and may develop health problems because of childhood nutritional deficiencies.
To prevent fussy eating and developmental problems later in life, it makes sense to address the problem early. Just make sure that your child is actually a fussy eater and not refusing meals because of fullness or a lack of appetite.
Here are some tips to handle fussy eaters that I’ve found to be quite effective.
Tips To Get A Fussy Eater To Eat
1. Make Meals A Family Affair
“Having meals together as a family keeps spirits up, and a jovial atmosphere at the dining table also makes eating a more fun experience”
It’s not just an effective way to get your child to eat healthy and pick up eating habits from the parents, but it also helps strengthen familial bonds.
Having meals together as a family keeps spirits up and a jovial atmosphere at the dining table also makes eating a more fun experience, reducing the likelihood of food tantrums.
2. Create Interest In Food
“Cultivating an early interest in food, allows you to inculcate healthier food choices in your child”
It’s funny how many of us actually love food, but had little interest in it when we were kids! Cultivating an early interest however, allows you to inculcate healthier food choices in your child.
You can increase interest by including your child in the cooking process, with kid safe activities like passing ingredients and allowing him to observe the preparation.
If you make the entire activity engaging and fun, also using colorful and differently shaped foods, it will get your child interested in food.
3. Be Patient & Positive
“Use positive parenting techniques, expressing pleasure and pride when your child does eat well, while being firm at all other times – just don’t lose your cool”
Don’t give in to paranoia if your child isn’t eating his food. Use positive parenting techniques, expressing pleasure and pride when your child does eat well.
At the same time, be firm and make it clear that he will not get any food outside of meal time. Follow the practice consistently and your child will start to cooperate willingly.
Just make sure you don’t cave in by pandering to tantrums and running behind him to get him to eat. A little hunger won’t hurt and will in fact force your child to eat better at the next meal.
4. Make Meals Fun
“Instead of using unhealthy distractions, read meal time stories and create games like food quizzes to encourage healthy eating”
In addition to family meals, get your child to eat with other kids as well. Watching other kids enjoy their meals and seeing how their behavior is appreciated will encourage her to eat as well.
Instead of using unhealthy distractions like watching the television for fun, read meal time stories and create games like food quizzes to encourage healthy eating.
5. Avoid Unhealthy Distractions
“Games, toys, and cartoons are great for entertainment, but combining these activities with eating will not generate any interest in food”
The point is to get your child to develop healthy eating habits, not to distract him with other undesirable habits. Games, toys, and cartoons are great for entertainment, but combining these activities with eating will not generate any interest in food.
Eating food simply becomes the means to an end. By focusing on food instead while eating, your child will grow up to eat mindfully.
6. Treat Your Child
“Include your child in meal planning, so that she gets to eat some foods she likes and feels included in the process”
While you need to be firm with your child, ensuring that she eats whatever is served, you can include your child in planning a food menu for the week.
Incorporate some suggestions so that your child gets to eat some foods she likes and so that she feels included in the planning. This will really help generate more interest in wider range of food.
7. Self Service
“Children can be messy, but you need to be patient and allow your child to interact with and handle his own food”
Well, we don’t literally mean that your child should serve himself, but let him feed himself. Children can be messy, but you need to be patient and allow your child to interact with and handle his own food.
This will create further interest in food and it also gives your child a sense of independence. Very soon, you won’t have to worry about fussy eating or even spoon feeding your child.
8. Follow A Routine
“With consistent practice, your child’s body clock settles into the routine and those hunger pangs will start to kick in at meal time”
Regular mealtimes are good for all of us, but this behavior is hard to cultivate later in life. Make it a point to start serving lunch and dinner at a fixed time every day, so that your child gets habituated to the pattern.
If you follow the practice consistently, your child’s body clock settles into the routine and those hunger pangs will start to kick in at meal time. You won’t need to coax or force your child to eat food any longer.
Lastly, I can’t stress enough about the uniqueness of each child. Accept your child as he is and only try to change behaviors that are a genuine cause for concern by using positive parenting techniques.