Tearing your hair out over how to get your kid to eat anything
close to a balanced diet? This article shares some tips from
If meal time dramas are a common sight in your household, you
are not alone. Getting used to meal times, trying new foods,
adjusting to unfamiliar textures and flavours is unsettling for
many children, especially toddlers.
At the same time, preparing nutritious meals that are left
uneaten and constantly having to cajole the picky one to take
even one bite can be stressful for parents and caregivers.
Common complaints in providing kids nutrition range from
difficulty in introducing new foods to an aversion for certain
types, especially green, leafy vegetables, as well as wholemeal
varieties like brown rice and wholegrain breads.
Generally, toddlers are resistant to the concept of trying new
foods mainly because of fear. Pressure from parents and force
feeding will only make things worse.
Other explanations could be organic causes like oral motor
dysfunction which makes it difficult to swallow certain types
of food; a gradual assertion of independence and wanting a say
in what he eats; peer pressure which leads to choosiness; and
perhaps a previous unpleasant experience like choking.
For a child to develop the right eating habits, nutrition
experts stress the importance of addressing this problem.
Getting your child to eat a variety of foods is important to
ensure a well-balanced diet and adequate nutrition.
Unhealthy or improper eating habits that are not corrected will
spill over to adulthood which become even harder to change.
However parents can take heart, as most children will grow out
of this behaviour by the age of six.
Strategies to coax fussy eaters
Let him be the boss â€“ Ask your kid what he wants to eat.
During your next grocery shopping trip, let him take over the
trolley and have a say in picking out new things that he is
keen to try. If he chooses it, he will at least take a bite.
1.Make it fun â€“ Get him involved in the preparation of the
food. Have fun together cutting up the vegetables or fruits
into different shapes and sizes. Combine different food with
bright colours and make the dish â€œinteresting to eatâ€.
2.Mix it up â€“ If he shuns the dish once he notices a
particular ingredient, try a different way of cooking. Some
alternatives include pureeing or mashing and mixing it together
with porridge or other types of his favourite food.
3.Encourage, not punish â€“ Load up the praises when he eats
well or tries out new food. Even if he rejects it for the first
time, do not lash out. Instead, try again a week later and do
so in small portions.
4.Adopt a routine â€“ Kids crave familiarity. Plan regular
mealtimes and keep to small but frequent meals with snacks in
between to supplement their main diet. Examples of healthy
snacks include milk, soy bean milk, cheese, fruits, fruit
juices, pudding and yoghurt.
Nutrition and Dietetics Services at Mount Alvernia Hospital
(Singapore) specialises in nutrition and dietary issues.
One-to-one consultation on nutrition is available for both
inpatients & outpatients.