My daughter is 4 and a half years old. Meal times nowadays are more fun and relaxed than before.But it’s still not a breeze.
As a mother , I have learned that there really is no simple single solution to feeding your child. It’s a challenge, which you have to win.
I practically learnt to cook so I could feed my child! My mom and sis are super awesome cooks.So growing up,I only went to the kitchen to clean up.That was my delegated chore.
Even during college when I went to Delhi for my post grads I had a limited set of recipies under my belt, which I used to recycle every other week.
But to feed a child you constantly have to reinvent and innovate.It has to be healthy, tasty, fresh, appropriate for age, etc, etc.These were top tip from my Hubby!
The most difficult time for me was when I started weaning her. That’ definitely, topic for a book!
(If you have just started weaning your child write to me drabhijit@healthwealthbridgeand. com I will send you all the do’s and don’t.)
The next milestone for feeding is when your baby is a preschooler.
Is your child a Preschooler?
Does every mealtime seem to be totally uphill ?
Mealtime=Battlefield? Fussy eating? Picking at food, pushing food away, tantrums during eating ? You need a solution now. Don’t lose your temper, it will just make the problem worse.
I have a solution ….
Ultimate tips for feeding fussy Preschoolers.
1) Make meal times family time. Have fun at meals.Eat together as a family. Include food from all food groups so that your child gets curious and wants to taste them.
The more you enjoy your own meals as a family , more likely your child will learn to look forward to her meals and enjoy them more. Eating all meals together may not be possible. Try to have at least your breakfast and dinner together!
2) Cook tasty healthy food one item on your plate easy to share with your child. Offer food from your plate.When child sees you eating different types of food , he/she will be more wiling to try new food items.
3) Maintain a daily chart of what your toddler eats.The calorie count will help you decide on further dietary needs. Rotate and change food items you give for meals and snacks. Just like you, your baby will like variety in her meals. The biggest reason for food refusal is often boredom with the food she is offered.
4) Avoid sweets, chocolates , fries, chips and fast food before meals These foods cause satiety but doesn’t fulfill your child’s nutritional needs. Fun food like these should be offered as positive reinforcement or bribe. If your child has her meal without tantrums then she may be given a small treat.
5) Make it a rule to make your child try at least 1 new item of food everyday. This way she will have variety , as well as a balanced diet.
6) Make a pact with your child At each meal your child must try a food atleast 5 times before he/she can decide to not, have that food. By that time you should be able to make her have a fair amount ! Then allow her to have one item of his/her choice.
7) Feed your child when he /she is hungry. Children eat better when they are hungry,. Give them the new food item ,as the first food to try .Hunger will make them more likely to eat the new food. Definitely avoid snacks too close to mealtimes.
8) Cook with your child at least show her the veggies, fruits, cereals which are needed to make her meals. Ask him/her to help you make the preparations.Being involved in the process often make them more likely to try these food willingly!
Some other articles which offer deeper insights:
Why is feeding your preschooler such a Big deal?
You know that your child needs energy to play.They also need the right amount and right type of nutrition for growth. But as a preschooler they have one more challenge… They have to Learn!
As a mother you will not only be building her body for a healthy life , but also be responsible for providing her with the right equipment to make learning fun and easy.
So what should your preschooler
They can be offered the same food as the family. Offer them variety, but not too many choices at the same time.
Experiment with different, consistency, cooking methods for cereals, pulses, vegetables. Ideally their daily food intake should include food from all groups.
Cereals, vegetables, fruits, proteins including animal proteins,milk all are needed for the complete physical and mental development.
Meal plan Guideline
Cereals: Rice, roti, bread, oats
Proteins: fish/lean meat/eggs/chicken Beans, peas, various dal Milk group: milk, yoghurt, cheese
Fat: butter, oil, ghee .
You must also read
You should be careful with food that may cause choking.
- Slippery food like grapes.Its better to cut them up.Large pieces of meat/poultry.
- Small hard food:nuts/seed/popcorn/raw carrots raisins
- . Sticky food like peanut butter.
- Always make small pieces of food. Watch while your child eats.
What food may cause Food Allergies?
Common food includes milk, eggs, peanuts, other nuts, soybean, wheat, fish, shellfish. If you feel your child may be allergic to certain food definitely talk to your doctor.
Symptoms of food allergy:
Cramps pain in abdomen, bloating, flatulence, altered stool, itchy rash.
Special tips for picky eaters
- Offer them 1 new food at a time.
The new food should be offered at the start of a meal, when child is hungry.
- Every mealtime should have 1 food
that your child loves+whatever the family is having.
- Make food recognizable ,mashed
formless food may not be to everyone’s liking.
- Might like only 1 food group.
Offer incentive to try others.
Other posts in the Childhood obesity series :
What are good healthy snacks for your preschooler?
Crackers, toast, air popped popcorn, vegetables cut Into cubes air fried/grilled with a dip. Cut up fresh fruits, home-made curd, grilled paneer, milk plain/flavoured, custard with fruits, pudding, hard boiled eggs.
Take Away Message
So the top tips for making your preschooler eat well are:
- Eat healthy as a family .
- Plan your meals as well as snack.
- Give your child enough time to eat.
- Try to have quiet time before meals and snacks
- Involve child in making food.
- Try using child sized plates, cups, spoons etc.
I hope this guide helps you feed your preschooler. Bringing up your little one may be your most difficult lifetime project, but she/he will definitely be your most rewarding!!
Need more tips , subscribe to my Healthletter
(This guide was compiled after discussion with Dr.Abhijit Misra, pediatrician, a.k.a my hubby)
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