New Delhi: My child does not eat properly. My child becomes fussy while having his/her meals. Why does that happen? Is my child allergic to some food? Can I give him/her some medicine so that he/she feels hungry? My two-year-old often screams during mealtimes, what should I do? Well, these are among some of the most commonly asked questions to a pediatrician by parents across the places. As a father of a five-year-old, I am not an exception either. So, how do we deal with a kid who refuses to take his/her meals as per our expectations? How do we handle a fussy eater? Let us cut to the chase.Also Read - Parenting: These Signs Are Proof, You Are Unknowingly Mom-Shaming Yourself
Check out 7 easy ways to tackle a fussy eater.
For any parent, one of the most pertinent questions, that comes to their mind about their child is – what should we do as a parent to make our kid’s mealtime interesting and playful rather than a dreadful experience? Dr Meharban Singh, Former Head of Department of Pediatrics and Neonatal Division WHO Collaborating Centre for Training and Research in Newborn Care All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi talks about the topic in detail in his book “The Art and Science of Baby and Child Care”. Also Read - Parenting Tips: 4 Things You Should Learn From Japanese Parents
Parenting Tips: Here are some of the dos and don’ts for you.
More often than not the “mealtimes are virtual mini-wars. On one side is the valiant, adamant and determined lone fighter and on the other is the entire family, indulging in all sorts of pranks to make him eat. The child is coaxed, cajoled and bribed to eat, shown a movie, given a mobile. The child is the usual winner in the end,” Dr Singh writes, truly capturing the common problem in any household with a toddler/kid. Also Read - Global Day of Parents 2020: Share These Beautiful Quotes With Your Parents to Express Your Love And Emotions
So, you may wonder, what’s the ultimate solution if your child too is a fussy eater. It is definitely a fickle process! So, let’s first start with things you should not do.
Parenting Tips: 7 Easy Ways to Deal With a Fussy Eater (Image source: Safefood)
Things You Should Not Do During Your Kid’s Mealtime
- Do not bribe your kid if he/she is not eating.
- Do not show your child his/her favourite cartoon on TV or mobile to distract him/her while you feed them. YouTube for kids or ChuChu TV is a great thing but not for mealtime. (Initially, you will find it tough to forego some habits but if it is for your kids, the choice is yours.)
- Do not force feed/push the food in the child’s mouth by screaming or shouting in anger or frustration. Dr Meharban Singh writes, “Child is not on a hunger strike. He is merely being rebellious and wants his way to exercise his individuality and ego.”
- To tackle a fussy eater, always avoid overindulgence. Do not pay excessive attention or concern to the child’s food.
Things You Should Do to Inculcate Better Eating Habit in Kids
- Make times pleasant by caring for the likes and dislikes of your kid.
- Serve small portions to your kid – a bit less than what you think they can eat.
- You can make their meal interesting by cutting fruits/vegetables into different sizes and shapes.
Make your child’s mealtime experience fun and interesting.
- Let the child enjoy the meal – don’t rush. Let them eat. Try to adopt a relaxed attitude.
- Show excitement when they eat something on their own, and ignore them when they spill or waste their meal. The kid, of course, is likely to create a mess while eating. Just let them be.
- Give them food when other members in the family are eating too. Make them sit on the chair next to the dining table when you are having a family meal.
- Give them a reasonable time to finish their meal and remove the plate after a certain period. If they don’t eat during that period, remove the plate quietly without showing any anxiety or concern. They will soon realise that if they don’t finish their food on time, it will be taken away. Don’t allow them to blackmail you.
Doctor Meharban Singh writes, there is “no role of tonics and appetizers” to make your kid eat. A relaxed and common sense approach should be placed on behaviour management to deal with the fussy eating habits of your child.
If you spot any other behaviour or a stomach-related problem, you must consult your pediatrician immediately.
Hopefully, these basic tips will come in handy for you next time. Happy parenting!