“My kid just does not eat” a mother cried out her woes. Fussy eating in children is common and normal. So, take a breath mommies- you are not alone. Though I agree it can be a handful sometimes. Even though it is a phase that passes away as the kids grow up, here are some ways to dodge the bullet and have peaceful meals with your child.
**Don’t talk about it as much**- *“You’re such a fussy eater.”* No. Stop saying this to your child. It’s natural to share your anxiety with other moms; but try not to have the conversation in front of your child. They like to be the centre of attention and this gets them exactly what they want. So take all the focus and attention away from what your kids are and aren’t eating for a while.
**Make meal times a happy time**- Shed all your stress and have a happy and peaceful environment for your child at meal times. Do not pressurise the child by saying- “We will finish the food on our plate today”. Remember the target is not to finish what’s on the plate. Try not to worry about spilled water/ food and don’t even try disciplining the child about table manners at this time. There are times that toddlers are too cranky nearing meal time. So try having a quiet moment to calm your child. You may take the help of the other members in the family.
**Have a meal time table**- Involve your child in setting a meal time table for the week. Give the power to the child to decide what he/she wants to eat once or twice a week.
**Cook with your kids**- This always helps. Whisking the eggs, tossing the salad, making rotis etc will make them more involved in the process genuinely.
**Make food fun**- Go for variety and creativity while serving. Sandwiches cut in interesting shapes, colourful salads, food colours etc.
**No TV**- TV and meals do not go together. Sometimes, it is easy to switch on the favourite cartoon just to feed the child. But it becomes a habit which is difficult to get rid of. It also leads to obesity in children.
Introduce new foods- Serve everything that is prepared. I remember serving ‘*tinda*’ to my son when he was two and slowly he developed a taste for it.
**Don’t bribe the child**- Stop offering chocolates, cakes and ice creams as rewards if they finish the food. Eventually, the kids will start negotiating over dessert.
**Have interesting conversations at meal times**- Kids are an excited lot and would rather spend time exploring things around them than eat. Talk about interesting topics and share stories while they manage to chew their food.
Remember, it is not always about food with fussy children. It has more to do with their independence of choosing what to eat and when to eat. Do not initiate a power struggle with the kids. So next time they throw a tantrum- Back off. Breathe. Unclench your fists. And let this phase pass away.
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