The mealtime War with young children (especially toddlers) is the most loving, yet concerning Open Secret in the parenting world, I have come across. At a recent parenting programme I attended, a solid debate prevailed on whether ‘Some/ All kids are fussy eaters’ or ‘Some/All are fussy feeders’, with no definite conclusion but a relatable context.
A hypothesis that’s probably true for all mothers who are at the end of their wits trying to feed their child healthy and nutritious food is as follows:
I agree that the above is correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
What I therefore, will advocate for, are my own tried and tested formulae which make me feel ‘arrived’ as far as my 3-year-old’s nutrition journey is concerned. These have never been attested by my child’s pediatrician or any other expert and nor did I care to ask for it. What I am happy about though, is the peace of mind I enjoy today.
Jump to my tenets now:
1. Always EAT what you what them to eat in front of them. Not for an instance should they see you munching on potato chips to satiate your hunger pangs if it pains you seeing them eat. They don’t know it is once.
2. Don’t bother to shift your meal times if they don’t eat in maximum half an hour of perusal process. There’s no shame in finishing your meal before your child. Just tells him/her your priorities.
3. Allow time for realization of hunger pangs. Don’t offer food too soon after s/he has finished a meal or munched a snack. You think the kid is not full, the kid may not think so. Hunger, truly is the best sauce.
4. If the child is not eating but mopping the floor with the ‘daal’, simply allow. Tell by way of stories that food shouldn’t be wasted but don’t come in the way of him/her experiencing the food and its texture.
5. If you opt for eating with TV/mobile on or while running out at the park even once, you had it. Either make it routine or never do it. To their mind, food equals that activity (TV, for example) so s/he will actually eat without any realization of taste.
6. Expose to strong tastes occasionally – squeeze a few drops of lemon juice in his/her mouth or a few seeds of chilli or a small bite of bitter gourd. Just refreshes their taste buds, it’s ok.
7. Don’t care to cook what they like to eat always. Show them children in the slums and tell them their mum just gives dry rice/roti. May sound a bit rude but gives them perspectives when young. An occasional treat should be valued, instead of expecting it daily.
8. Schedule helps in responding to hunger but don’t rack your brains if one day they don’t eat lunch/ dinner. Follow #3.
That’s it from my side!
Lots of jump and play, hearts full of smiles and good sleep are good enough to arouse hunger in children. So chill, eat your meals in peace and remember what Dr Anupam Sibal told us in a chat, “No Kid starves”!
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