Many parents have been there, and most wish they had a solution for their kids when it comes to mealtimes, especially when there are fussy eaters at the table. Mealtimes can be traumatic, not just for children learning to eat but for everyone else in the vicinity too.
Adults gobble down pasta dishes and burgers with gusto and even a sense of abandonment when they’re really hungry. But consider for a moment how big and sometimes scary that food can appear to be when you’re just a toddler. Many parents force food on their kids, bribing them with money and other incentives to taste whatever is for lunch or dinner. But is that really a good way to get kids to eat? Bribes should be more of a last resort than anything else and that’s why we’re bringing you these tips for dealing with kids who are fussy eaters.
Never Force Food
According to most experts and child psychologists, forcing children to eat is not a good idea, especially if they are anxious types or have had issues feeding since birth. Interestingly, many mild and more severe eating disorders are a result of a traumatic birth, separation from the mother, or issues taking milk within the first few days and weeks of life. Children who are born prematurely and those who needed ventouse to help them into the world frequently experience eating issues and disorders from a young age. This is something to be mindful of while ensuring never to force-feed a little one food that scares them. Find the foods they like and carefully try to introduce more and more nutritious foods into the mix.
One of the best tips for parents when it comes to encouraging their fussy eater children to eat is to offer a wide variety of foods (and beverages like smoothies and pure juices). The wider the type of food from a young age, the more likely the child is to eat more things as they get older. This is to do with dormant tastebuds needing to be activated by a variety of flavors and indeed textures and smells. On the other hand, some people have hypersensitive tastebuds whereby even things like salt and sugar can appear spicy or overwhelming. The best advice is always to bring new items to the dinner table and see what are the most popular. Including plenty of healthy liquids, fruits, and vegetables is also advisable.
Little Food Scientists
Some more great advice when it comes to tricky eaters is to introduce kids to the concept of being “little food scientists.” Unfortunately, in the day and age in which we live, most parents have overly busy lives, and some hardly have time to focus on food three times a day, let alone healthy, freshly cooked food. As a result of the daily stress of food, some more sensitive children can get traumatized and start to view food as a threat. One of the best pieces of advice recommended, but experts in food disorders are to try to encourage kids to understand the science of food and to become little food scientists themselves. This essentially means that as a family, you look at food objectively and take an interest in it. Understanding and explaining different food types and calorie counts can also work well, as long as the kids feel involved and that they are viewing mealtimes and food objectively,