Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Dealing with your little picky eater

Is your child always hiding from the food you give him?
There are several reasons why a toddler may be a fussy eater. One, a toddler gains weight slower than he did during his first year, thus needing less food. Second, a toddler is always on the go so sitting still might prove difficult. Third, a toddler is beginning to discover his independence — mealtime is one way to express this sense of self-reliance. While this is all part of his growing up, feeding him can become a frustration. Feeding him healthy food can be an even bigger frustration. A bowl of cereal may be satisfying enough for baby, but there are ways to go around his pickiness to ensure he maintains a healthy diet.

Make dining entertaining. Use rice moulds to transform ordinary rice into cute bites! Star-shaped rice, triangles or circles can amuse the little one. Make over sandwiches with cookie cutters then decorate each sandwich with colourful toppings such as heart-shaped cheese or red bell pepper confetti.

Present baby with a nibble buffet. Instead of one full plate of pasta, why not offer her a little of this and that? Using an ice cube tray, fill it with a variety of foods such as cheese squares, banana slices, hard-boiled egg wedges, cereal and other nibbles. Since he can get tired easily of eating the same thing in one meal, offering him a myriad of healthy munchies can encourage him to eat more.

Dunk it and dip it! Babies are messy eaters, but that’s a given. Introducing him to the fun of dipping food can make eating even messier, but it can boost his interest in eating more. Try out healthy dips such as cream cheese, guacamole, yogurt or pureed fruits or vegetables. Serve it with his favourite crackers, toast slices or cereal.

Serve it bottoms up! A drink can be a sneaky way of upping the toddler’s healthy meal quotient. Mix fresh fruits and milk in a blender. Serve the smoothie in his favourite cup to make it more fun for him. Consider experimenting with drink concoctions such as fruit and yogurt or vegetables and fruits.

Slip the veggies into his favourite foods. Since my son was a big on spaghetti, we slipped in diced vegetables into the usual tomato-based sauce. I also cut up vegetables such as spinach or bok choy into really small pieces and mixed them with his buttered rice.  He never suspected a thing.

Have other kids join the meal. Eating becomes more fun for kids when they share a meal with other kids.  When my then two-year-old son shared a meal with his older cousin, we observed he ate more when they were seated together. In this case, he became more curious about what another child was eating and ended up more motivated to eat too.

Be a good example. If you don’t like to eat your greens, there’s no chance your toddler will grow up liking them too. Instead, show him how Mummy and Daddy are genuinely enjoying their chicken and broccoli and he just might imitate you.

Don’t give up! There will be days when he’ll eat like there’s no tomorrow, then hardly touch his plate the next. It may take your toddler several tries to get used to the new taste of foods introduced to him, so hold on tight. It’s a trying time for every parent, but the best thing to do is try again next meal.

Overall, relax. If he’s hooked on his O-shaped cereal for one whole day, let it go. Just continue to offer him healthy meal options and who knows? He just might bite.

read more