Nishti’s Top 7 Choices
Food behaviour in young children can be a challenge to many families, in particular for those who experience food rejection behaviours such as fussy eating. This feeding difficulty is also known as picky or faddy eating and is prevalent in preschool children worldwide.
However, extensive research shows that fussy eating is a normal part of a toddler’s development. A term called Neophobia is thought to be an evolutionary beneficial survival mechanism to help children avoid ingesting toxic chemicals in their environment. So children will naturally reject bitter tasting foods as it could be a poisonous plant! Obviously, in today’s worlds this ‘survival mechanism’ may be a barrier to accepting new foods. It also may cause a lack of food variety and therefore parents may even question the quality of the diet, growth and wellbeing of their child.
Top 7 Choices For Managing Fussy Eaters
1 Encourage Self-Feeding
Provide your child with the fun of feeding themselves. Self-feeding is a great opportunity for your child to play with food and feel the various textures, smells and tastes. Yes it will get messy and that’s ok as it will in fact help a child gain confidence. Praise them as much as you can.
2 Trust Your Childs Clues
Try not to force feed your child. This will only make matters worse. Instead, try and recognise when your child has had enough to eat. It’s their appetite after all so they know best. Clues that they have had enough to eat may be: They push the food away, they turn their face away from the food or they start getting distressed.
3. Eat Together
Children learn by imitating others. So why not eat together? Ensure you eat the same meal, just different portion sizes. Children from the age of 1 should be eating family meals and not baby or children foods. Nursery and play groups where children eat together is also a great strategy to overcome food fussiness.
4. Watch The Fluid Intake
Is your child filling up on drinks such as milk or juice? If yes, this may explain why they aren’t eating their meals. Drinks fill us up and can result in a reduction in appetite. Therefore, try not to offer large amount of fluids just before meal times. A child between the ages of 1 -3 years only needs a maximum of 350ml milk (cow’s milk, soya milk, oat milk or any other dairy substitute with added calcium added). Try also to provide drinks in a cup rather than a feeding bottle since this will automatically help to reduce the amount of milk your child drinks. Feeding from a bottle is not advised for children over 1 year of age.
5. Parental Modelling
Your child is always watching you! Remember, you are their role model so make sure you model the food habits that you would want them to adopt. So if you want them to eat their fruit and vegetables and if you want them to start having breakfast then set an example from today and they will eventually follow.
6. Cook Together
Children love to get creative so why not cook a meal together? Children are more likely to try foods they have helped to prepare.
7. Rule Out Medical Causes
Your child’s acceptance and desire to eat will be affected by constipation, food intolerances and nutritional deficiencies such as iron deficiency anaemia. If you suspect your child to have any of these problems then you can contact your GP or Health Visitor. Alternatively, you can book an appointment with me today from the comfort of your own home.
I hope you gained some value tips. I would love to hear from you so feel free to drop a comment below.