Feeding children can be a rather tedious and frustrating activity. Although you may want to avoid fights and tantrums with your children, it is your duty to provide a health and balanced meal at the same time. Here are then suggestions that will help you avoid the usual problems of feeding small children, and help you instill in them the value of healthy eating.
Your preschooler insists on eating fried chicken every day, whilst your toddler would rather play than eat. These are common problems that parents face when feeding their children. Nutrition is an unbearable but crucial topic parents need to face on a daily basis. This is especially true among those who are raising small children who have developed finicky eating habits. Before you follow the guidelines we have provided below, you should bear in mind that children’s food preferences are premature. This means that you will need to carefully map out their meals and make sure it meets the basic dietary needs and their personal preferences too.
1. Always respect your child’s appetite- or the lack thereof Never force a child to eat even when he’s genuinely not hungry. They will eat when they feel sudden hunger. In addition, do not try to bribe your child to eat food items that he doesn’t want to consume. Also, never ask a child to clean his plate even when he obviously looks full. These measured will only ignite a power struggle over food.
Furthermore, children may create a perception that mealtime is associated with negative feelings such as anxiety and frustration. Forcing them to eat when they aren’t hungry also makes them less sensitive to all-natural hunger cues.
Ideally, serve small portions of food so they don’t feel overwhelmed during mealtime. It’s best to let them ask for more food than simply serve them more portions after finishing the food on their plates.
2. Adhere to usual eating routines and habits It is recommended to serve major meals and snacks at the same time every day. You should include milk or fruit juices with the food. Do not forget to give them water in between meals and snacks so they don’t feel the urge to binge eat.
3. Be patients when asking them to try out new food items It is natural for kids to be finicky eaters. When trying out new food, make sure to give them small portions of it so they can assess for themselves. Most children will give in and taste small portions of the new food, and take them back out again. This is a normal occurrence so be patient while they are learning to appreciate the new food you serve them. Children usually need repeated exposure to new food before they can appreciate it.
You can encourage your child to eat new food by describing the color, texture, and smell rather than summarize its taste. It is best to serve new food items with their favorite as this makes it easier for kids to accept as part of their meals.
4. Make eating a fun activity Serve food items such as fruits and veggies in fun and colorful ways. They will only appreciate the food if they find it interesting. Make use of cookie cutters to cut veggies, as this makes it less of a chore for them to eat.
5.Ask for your child’s help Recruiting your child to help out in picking out the fruits and veggies to eat is an excellent way of encouraging to eat the same food items during meals. Never buy anything that you don’t want your kids to eat. In addition, it is also recommended that you ask them to help around the kitchen, as this gives them a higher sense of appreciation for the foods that you want for them to consume.
6.Be a role modelShoe your children that you eat a wide selection of foods as well. They look up to you, and whatever you do or eat will be their benchmark or standard too.
7.Be more creativeFruits and vegetables can be very boring for many children. If you find it hard to feed them these food items, be a little more creative with the presentation and preparation of meals.
For instance, make sure to find new creative ideas to present new food items or foods that they wouldn’t eat when presented as is. Instead of serving veggies steamed, why not add it to pasta sauce to make it more palatable.
8.Reduce distractions when eating Make sure that your child is solely focused on eating during meals. Turn off electronic gadgets and the television as a means to minimize distraction. They will appreciate food more as their attention is solely concentrated on the food they’re eating. In addition, television ads are negative influencers in that most of the products advertised are food items that contain high levels of sugars and trans fats.
9. Never identify desserts as rewards Restricting your child to eat desserts is not a good idea. This measure will only increase your kid’s desire to eat more sweet and unhealthy food items. Make sure to allot at least two nights in a week where you serve the kids dessert. Never skip dessert, or better yet serve healthier dessert alternatives such as yogurt and fresh fruits.
10.Do not be a short-order cook Picky eating is the result of separating your meal to that of your children’s. Encourage your kids to stay at the table during the schedule mealtimes even when they don’t feel like eating. Let them eat what adults are eating. They will soon become familiar with the taste and they will soon prefer eating them too.
Picky eating should be a major concern for parents. Nutrition is an integral part of a child’s growth and development. If you feel that picky eating is affecting your children negatively, do not hesitate to ask the expertise of your doctor. Experts suggest that keeping a food log will help you in assessing whether your children are getting the right amount of food and the right set of nutrients for healthy growth and development.
Lastly, you must remember that you kids’ eating habits won’t change overnight. Take small steps to influence your child to eat right, and he will develop the habit if healthy, clean eating until he grows up.