Is the ruddy, chubby kid with a good appetite and a desire to eat the ideal we should strive for? What kind of traps could you encounter on the way towards this ideal?
If your child is fine fed and eats everything you serve, it must be developing fine and will eventually grow up to be healthy and smart, right? Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as your desire for your child’s healthy and balanced nourishment and its readiness to accept such a diet, do not always go together. According to a small questionnaire we made, 24% of the parents claimed that they have had problems with their children’s nutrition. If you are a part of this percentage, we can offer you some small advices on how to try and solve some of the nutrition problems parents face today.
First of all, think about the following questions. Do you consume a liter of milk daily and is there someone who makes you do it? Do you have someone who during every meal puts a plate in front of you and determines that you need to eat a bowl of soup, two stakes, ten grams of salad and two potatoes, or you are the one making that decision of how much and when will you eat? And finally, do you truly think that you can go on being hungry for a long time, never notice that hunger, and eventually die of starvation.
The feelings you have while answering these questions are the same feelings your children have when you are chasing them around the apartment with a spoon. That is why it’s important for you to be aware of this, and also why you should relax when it comes to food as well as know that no child in the world would torture itself by being hungry, or starve to death.
Most parents, even though they claim that their children are well fed, with a stable weight increase, and also cheerful and healthy, are still worried about their children’s diet. Such an example would be when a parent is worried that their child’s weight increase doesn’t entirely match the charts, which is a very common worry. The important thing to remember here is to stop creating a problem where there isn’t one and try to understand the phases of a child’s nutrition. If the weight increase is stable, then your child receives enough food although it doesn’t always drink yogurt for breakfast, eats exclusively meat for a weak, or doesn’t like eating soup etc. We all have various eating phases, don’t we? That is why you should try and understand you child’s needs. Some kids have a very big appetite, while others are easily fed after drinking only a glass of juice. The conclusion? Feed your child according to its need. If you have a skinny child with a normal appetite, don’t let it drink something before a meal. You can allow for a drink before a meal only if s/he loves eating too much and is overweight.
Furthermore, you may also encounter a problem while giving liquids to babies. Infants receive the necessary liquids from their mother’s milk so they don’t have a need of water. If you add water in the nutrition before they start eating baby food, somewhere around the fifth or the sixth month, you may lower their appetite and affect their weight increase. While if you feed your baby with artificial milk, before you start giving them baby food it would be recommendable to give them additional liquids because this milk type is known to cause thirst due to its contents. However, even in this case you should pay attention not to exaggerate with additional liquids.
Try creating a meal order. Teach the time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try organizing the meals at the same time every day because this way the child’s body can get used to a certain tempo. Of course, if your child is hungry before meal time, you should give him/her something to eat, but try to avoid sweats and snacks. Offer your child a piece of fruit, some nuts or a fruit yogurt. Also, prepare your meals so that you may eat together. When you want to feed your child, you should also have your meal, as this creates a natural eating atmosphere. Furthermore, be a good example for your child and eat an apple as there are big chances for him/her to want a piece as well. Looking at you enjoying such food your child can learn how to do the same.
Don’t get frustrated about your child’s nutrition. If you get crazy every time s/he doesn’t want to eat at the moment you believe is right, you need to stop because your child is looking at you and it will notice your agitation and tension, and start to oppose you. Try to remain calm and show no disappointment when your child doesn’t finish its meal. Save it for later. Offer the leftovers in the next meal and never prepare something else until s/he eats them as that is a way of manipulating you. When your child learns that you are weak, it will start to manipulate you and it will find your agitation amusing, as you hurry to prepare another, special meal for him/her. That is why you should remain calm and not discuss the feeding problem with your child or anyone else, nor celebrate every bite, but instead, focus on something positive, like the manner in which your child holds the fork, and praise that behavior. Remain consistent and calm all the time.
Every person has a food s/he doesn’t like. Children usually don’t like eating food that does not look appealing to them, like some odd pieces of onion, peppers or the cabbage in their meals. These are just some caprices all children have, but as time passes they will get better. In time your children will enjoy some products from the start, and they will also stop eating something they used to enjoy before. Thus, it’s important to have patience. And if you are really concerned whether your children are eating cabbage or not, you can chop it into tiny pieces and let them consume it unknowingly. For example, you can mix some vegetables in a blender and add them to the goulash, your child never noticing the onions it contains.
Because young children haven’t already formed a habit to eat breakfast or lunch, most of the time they don’t feel like eating anything. That is why you should get creative with their meals; make cute vegetable dishes in a form of an animal or the form of a star and the sun. Use your imagination and actively involve your kid in the making of these meals. Decorate your food together. Decorate the sandwich with an animal head, or a clown’s etc. Make a hill from mashed potatoes, use spinach to make the grass and the eggs to make the sun or the dandelions in the grass. You need to understand that this approach has a much better effect than the hours of begging, telling stories and convincing your child to eat, which eventually results in your child eating no more than ten spoons. Your young one will eat much better if it’s happy.
The meals should also represent something beautiful for your child, a thing in which the entire family takes part. That’s why you should avoid blackmailing or bribing your child with buying him toys or candy as this is wrong, and it only teaches your child that s/he should get something for every time s/he behaves properly. Also, your love for food and the love you feel for your baby as a parent shouldn’t be mixed. Your love towards a certain food has nothing to do with the amount your child will consume.
And what if your kid doesn’t want milk or s/he suddenly starts to reject it? In this case, the fault might be an illness, use of antibiotics, stress, or if someone in the family regularly claims that milk is not tasty. And that’s why it’s important to pay attention to what you say in front of the children and have in mind that they are present and listening. If your child doesn’t like milk, try serving it with some chocolate, or offer him cocoa, fruit yogurt, pudding, frappe, cereals, cheese etc. If s/he doesn’t like any dairy products, then maybe milk is not good for your child’s stomach. Take your time, and if after a while the situation hasn’t changed you may consult a pediatrician.
Leave your child to take initiative and start using the spoon or fork on its own. When you see that s/he shows interest and a desire to learn how to hold the spoon help by giving encouragement. Your baby will be very proud with him/herself if s/he manages to master the skill of holding the cutlery in the same way the parents do. This will quickly lead to independent eating and there will be no need for your help in the feeding process.
There are also lots of ways for you to encourage your child to eat. You can offer some fine cutlery which can be used to explore the plate , offer a testing of the food from your plate, or encourage looking up to older siblings who eat their meal with great satisfaction. However, the most practical solution would be putting some food on your fingers. You can eat anything using your fingers which make the food more delicious. All the things a child can eat using his fingers: a piece of apple, some bread, pasta, a grain of peas, corn, cucumber…
And finally, remember that your child will eat the most when it’s hungry. Allow your child to eat as much as s/he needs, because sometimes the amount of food you serve may be too much for his/her needs. That’s why you should let your child, while still little, to walk away from the table and play, and when s/he starts to play don’t follow around with a plate and a spoon. Your child needs to learn that s/he is supposed to eat at the table and during a designated time when everyone is eating.