One of the trickiest tasks of parenting is easing your kids into eating properly. Let’s be real, this problem lasts well into their adulthood because kids love binging on junk and everything they shouldn’t really consume. However, toddlers generally only have access to what you give them. So, how do you make sure that they eat what you give them without making a fuss?
Here are some things that parents have found to be helpful.
Establish a schedule that lets them know when it’s time for food. The best thing to do is to eat together. Instead of feeding your kid first and then later sitting down to your own meal, try to establish a proper mealtime schedule, where you all sit down and eat together. This will lead to the establishment of a pattern in your child’s mind, which can help to make sure that your little one knows when it’s time to eat. It’s a kind of subconscious disciplining of the mind, and also reduces the pressure they may feel because you won’t be focusing only on his/her meal. Additionally, if your child sees you eating at a different time, he/she may get fussy when you try to feed them because the rest of the family isn’t eating. Children love imitating their parents and making them eat at a different time does not help.
Sometimes, it’s good to not give in to your child’s demands for snacks. Wait till it’s meal time. This means your child will be hungry and therefore, more likely to eat the food that is placed in front of him/her. Please note that if your child is excessively hungry, we would not recommend this option. However, this technique can help get your child accustomed to certain types of foods that he/she may not have liked initially. This also helps by further reinforcing the meal time schedule, so long as you remember to feed your child at the right time.
3. Don’t force
Children tend to grow at their own pace, and this applies even to things like eating. They take the time to start eating, and the average amount of food that a toddler may eat is about a fistful. Don’t force your child to eat more than he/she wants to. This will put them off and make them fussy. Appetite will increase with time, so don’t worry too much. However, if you feel as though your child’s appetite is too much or too little, consult a doctor.
Offering a wide variety of food can help keep your child interested or curious, at the least. Introduce different foods every week or every few weeks. This way, your child can get accustomed to different kinds of foods and you can understand which foods your kids like and which foods they don’t like. You can also make your child eat certain foods by offering it along with some other food that he/she does like.
5. Small portions
Kids do tend to eat little by little. To ensure that they learn to finish their food, it often helps to start with small portions. Another advantage of this is that your child doesn’t get overwhelmed with large amounts of food placed in front of them.
6. No complaining
DO NOT complain about food in front of your child. Children pick up on things really fast, especially from their parents. So, if a child hears their parent complaining about a certain type of food, they will tend to do the same. There will be a mental block created in the child’s mind towards that specific food, and he/she will learn to dislike it.
7. Role model
The primary influences in a child’s life are his/her parents. So be a good role model. Make sure your child sees you engaging in activities such as eating healthy foods, not wasting food and eating what is given. Being a good role model includes not complaining about any food.
Sometimes, a child may like eating a certain vegetable in one way, but not in another. For example, your little one may prefer eating raw carrots as opposed to boiled carrots, or vice versa. This could be the case with many foods, so try different preparations to see what your child likes and then you can try easing them into different types of food.
One trick that a lot of parents have found useful is allowing their babies to eat on their own. They found that their babies were more likely to eat whatever was put in front of them when they were allowed to eat on their own. This is because a child feels like they’re trusted enough to accomplish this task and that feeling would motivate them to eat whatever is on their plate. Sure they might make a mess at first, but it helps them learn how to eat and be less fussy, which is more efficient and good for their self-esteem.
Remember that children are very impressionable. So, what you teach them, how you teach them and what kind of example you set are all very important.