Are your meal times always spent running here and there trying in vain to make your fussy kid eat? Do you have to bribe, scream or bully him in order to get a few bites of healthy food inside his system?
Then you’re not alone, welcome to the group of frustrated moms of picky eaters! Tantrums, tears and drama and bickering are a common sight in many households where there are fussy kids. To feed them a normal, healthy meal is a dilemma for every mother. These toddlers are too small to understand the importance of a healthy meal.
Some of them might only want to eat a food of a particular colour where as some may only want to eat chips, fries and chocolates. Your child may be willing to eat his veggies but if they’ve touched something else on the plate then the dinner gets completely ruined. And, not getting proper nutrition or staying hungry makes him cranky, easily irritated and prone to diseases.
Feeding a fussy child is not a child’s play! You have to constantly innovate, make his food interesting and give him choices. But that does not mean that you have to be a master chef. As a mother, you definitely know what and how your child likes to eat. The key is to just sneak in some healthy stuff in between.
- Be innovative: Fussy kids make their mothers great manipulators, food artists and innovative queens! For instance, your child only wants to have a plain paratha without touching his spinach vegetable, try kneading the dough of the paratha with spinach puree. Then cook up some interesting story about a green paratha with his favorite cartoon character. This need not be for every meal of the day, but you could definitely take out time and plan one meal everyday this way. Similarly, instead of a regular pasta or pizza sauce made from onions and tomatoes, try churning in some carrots and peppers inside.
- Don’t be too stuck upon healthy food only: Combination is the key here. If your child wants chips, then chips it is..Frying some homemade chips. Give him a bowl of curd rice with his favorite potato chips. Giving your child a treat along with some healthy food will make him eat all of it without making a fuss.
- Be creative: Try making funny shapes with pancakes, dosas or chappatis which will make his food interesting. A friend of mine recently made a caterpillar by pinning grapes, mangoes, apples and bananas together with blueberries for the eyes. The child ate up the whole thing as he was learning about caterpillars in school. That child hates fruits and would never eat anything other than bananas. But don’t go overboard doing this, as later plain food would never appeal to him. Once in a while such fun with food is fine.
- Grow your own vegetables: If possible grow your own greens and vegetables in your kitchen garden and make your toddler pluck something everyday to be cooked. This will make the food more desirable for him.
- Eat together: This will make the child feel like part of the family, feel important and he might also learn to eat watching others. This is also a wonderful time to inculcate bonding between the family members. A healthy competition between siblings as to who finishes first, who finishes all or who is going to be the strongest as he has eaten well can also make him eat everything that is laid in front of him.
- Do not force your child to eat/finish: Unlike us adults a child knows when to stop. Just make a rule that if he gets hungry after an hour he will have to finish the left over meal. Some kids puke even if they eat a single extra bite. Listen to your kids and stop when they tell you.
- Educate your child: Teach him the importance of healthy eating by showing him some video clips and visiting some nutritionists. This works exceptionally well for kids who are really fussy. For more ideas on how to educate kids on the importance of healthy eating visit our blog: A guide on how to educate kids on the importance of healthy eating.
Trying out different activities and bonding with your child during meal times is something that will make your child eat healthy, try new food groups and develop a nourishing relationship with food.
Akansha is the Founder and Consultant at Beyond the Weighing Scale. With a wide range of expertise and skills, she is adept to speak about nutrition, health, lifestyle management and physical activity. She is a popular food columnist, a passionate foodie, a health enthusiast, an avid traveler and a happy yogi.