Tips to Get Your Toddler to Eat
- Thursday, 25 February 2010
Almost every child will go through at least one phase where his or her appetite is decreased. This could be due to illness, fatigue, stress, or asserting their independence by trying to control their food intake. In most cases, parents have nothing to worry about as the child in question will inevitably eat. Children usually don’t like to starve themselves.
Continued weight loss may, however, be legitimate reason to worry, in which case parents may want to intervene with appropriate strategies.
Do Not Pressure Them
A power struggle often arises between parents and their children who don’t eat. The cycle of parents become worried and subsequently trying to make their child eat, and the child responding by saying “NO!” can be problematic.
The solution is to keep serving your child food without any stress or pressure. When s/he feels there is nothing to gain from not eating, s/he will want to eat.
Keep in mind that if your child is losing unreasonable amounts of weight, you should take them to the doctor immediately.
Watch the Liquids
Liquids can fill up a small child quickly leaving no appetite for food. Offer your child water to drink and avoid juices. Make sure the child does not load up on water right before mealtime. You can offer them less upfront and assure them they will get more after the meal.
Make Mealtime Fun
See what shapes you can make with foods. Green beans can make wonderful smiles. Sliced cucumbers can make eyes. Small carrot pieces can make a nose. Now they have a face to eat. Broccoli can be trees. Celery can be a canoe. Now, they are set with an outdoor adventure!
Ask Children to Help
There is an increased chance that children will eat when they are involved in food preparation. If they are very young, simply mixing a soup or helping to put ingredients into a pot can get them involved.
Avoid Having Treat Foods in the House
Oftentimes, if children know that there are treats in the home, they will resist eating healthier options because they prefer the sugary snacks. If the child knows that what is on their plate is the only thing available to them, they will be less likely to avoid it.
Ensure there are No Nutrient Deficiencies
Children low in specific nutrients such as zinc, B12, or iron could have a reduced appetite. Have your health care provider check to ensure your child is not suffering from low levels of specific vitamins and minerals.
Keep Introducing Foods
Rather than giving up on the idea that your child will eat well, keep serving them healthy foods with the intention that one day they will eat them. In many cases, children will eventually try new foods.
Use Their Favorite Foods
If they only want to eat rice for a period of time, try to mix things into (brown) rice, mix the rice into a soup, or combine with beans. They may try to pick out the rice but at least they will taste the other food and possibly even enjoy them.
In many cases, parents can prevent the development of more serious food related issues if they implement some key strategies around eating. Remember that it is normal for children to be fussy with food at some point. Just watch your reaction because ultimately how you handle the situation will have an impact on the final outcome.