Parenting Tips: 7 Easy Ways To Deal With A Picky Eater
New Delhi: My child is not eating properly. My child is getting fussy eating his meals. Why is this happening? Is my child allergic to certain foods? Can I give him medicine to make him hungry? My two year old often screams during meals, what should I do? Well, these are some of the most frequently asked questions of the pediatrician by parents across the board. As the father of a 5 year old, I am no exception either. So, how do we deal with a child who refuses to eat his meals according to our expectations? How to deal with a picky eater? Let’s get right to the point. Also read – Parenthood: These Signs Are Proof That You Are Ashamed Without Knowing It
For any parent, one of the most relevant questions that comes to their mind about their child is: what should we do as a parent to make our child’s meal interesting and fun rather than a terrible experience? Dr Meharban Singh, Former Head of Department of Pediatrics and Neonatal Division, WHO Collaborating Center for Neonatal Care Education and Research, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, addresses the topic by detail in his book “The Art and Science of Babysitting and Child Care”. Also Read – Parenting Tips: 4 Things You Should Learn From Japanese Parents
More often than not, “meal times are virtual mini-wars. On one side is the valiant, inflexible and determined lone fighter and on the other is the whole family, indulging in all kinds of pranks to get him to eat. The child is coaxed, cajoled and bribed to eat, he is shown a movie, he is given a mobile. The kid is the usual winner in the end, ”writes Dr Singh, really capturing the common problem in any household with a toddler / child. Also Read – World Parents Day 2020: Share These Beautiful Quotes With Your Parents To Express Your Love And Emotions
So, you might be wondering what the ultimate solution is if your kid is also a picky eater. It is certainly an inconstant process! So, let’s start with the things you shouldn’t be doing first.
Things you shouldn’t do during your child’s meal
- Don’t bribe your child if they don’t eat.
- Don’t show your child their favorite cartoon on TV or on their mobile to distract them while you feed them. YouTube for kids or ChuChu TV is good, but not for meals. (You will have a hard time giving up some habits at first, but if it’s for your kids, the choice is yours.)
- Do not force feed / push food into child’s mouth while yelling or screaming in anger or frustration. Dr Meharban Singh writes: “The child is not on a hunger strike. He’s just rebellious and wants his own way to exercise his individuality and ego.
- To tackle a picky eater, always avoid overeating. Do not pay undue attention or concern to the child’s food.
What you should do to instill better eating habits in children
- Make the moments pleasant by taking care of your child’s likes and dislikes.
- Serve your child small portions – a little less than you think they can eat.
- You can make their meal interesting by cutting the fruits / vegetables into different sizes and shapes.
- Let the child enjoy the meal – don’t rush. Let them eat. Try to adopt a relaxed attitude.
- Show enthusiasm when they eat something alone and ignore them when they spill or waste their meal. The child, of course, is likely to create a mess when eating. Just let them be.
- Feed them when other family members are also eating. Have them sit on the chair next to the dining table when you have a family meal.
- Give them a reasonable amount of time to finish their meal and remove the plate after a while. If they don’t eat during this time, remove the plate quietly without showing any worries or concerns. They will soon realize that if they do not finish their food on time, it will be taken away. Don’t let them blackmail you.
Dr Meharban Singh writes that there is “no role for tonics and appetizers” in getting your child to eat. A relaxed and sensible approach should be placed on behavior management to deal with your child’s difficult eating habits.
If you spot any other behavior or stomach problem, you should see your pediatrician immediately.
Hope you find these basic tips helpful next time. Happy parenting!