When my baby girl Rai was 6 months old we started her on all sorts of mashed food.From 6 months to 1 year it was a constant battle of experimental baby food. From 1 year to 2 years some more experiments and finally we have a balance.
Once while travelling my daughter refused to have anything ,except plain white rice and milk.Then I realized ,children have a difficult time adjusting to new food.Because….its NEW!
Imagine giving a vegetarian, a nice stir fried octopus for dinner.
Not a good idea right.
Baby’s growing up on milk have essentially a bland diet.
Veggies lack taste and texture when given boiled.
Fish chicken eggs can be smelly.
Their tender taste buds can’t handle spices.
They are fighting a battle too.
The only way to win is to persevere.
They need to learn to stop being afraid of food .To enjoy their food.Make the right choices.Making positive food choices early in life,helps them cope even away from home .
When will you call a child picky eater?
Picky eaters have strong food preferences. They have a persistent unwillingness to try new food.
Can it cause problems with nutritional status?
Yes it will cause nutritional deficiencies
50% of 19 to 24 month old children are picky eaters.Because of this , they will be avoiding micronutrient rich foods like fruits and veggies This will affect the growth of your child.
2 main problems
1)Failure to thrive .With physical and mental.development not upto the mark according to age .
2)If children develop unhealthy eating habits .This may lead to adult eating problem and health issues.
When you need to worry?
*If your child is less than 1 year:Height weight and developmental milestones need to be checked monthly.Because your baby grows ,even while you watch.The first year of life is very important.You worry, if there’s no significant positive change in the monthly assessment.
*If your child is more than 1-year-old :
Height needs to be checked every 6 months.
If child is not growing in height then that’s a cause for concern.Its a sign of chronic protein energy malnutrition.
Weight needs to be checked every 3 months .
If your child doesn’t gain weight or gains too much.Both is cause for concern.
No weight gain is due to lack of adequate dietary protein energy .
Excessive weight gain, gives rise to malnutrition of obesity.Where there is excess calories in the diet.But it lack important macro and micronutrient .
When your child shows signs of micronutrient deficiencies:
- Paleness of body.
- Repeated skin infections.
- Has repeated cold and cough
- Suffer from mouth ulcers etc.
- Is cranky
- Has little energy to play
When you don’t need to worry?
- Baby is happy ,active with good growth.
- Both height for age and weight for age is within normal limit.
Neophobia is the tendency of children to initially reject new or novel food.
You will have to give new food 10 to 16 times before they accept them.
Tips for parents before starting new food
- Start new food 1 at a time.
- Give gaps of 3 to 5 days before starting another new food .
- New foods should be stopped in the event of diarrhea /vomiting /rashes.These may be due to food allergy.
- During complementary feeding your baby will like softer and smoother textured foods.Gradually replace with thicker food items
- Don’t give up.Just because your baby refuses something once don’t lose heart.Make it taste different. Make it look different .A variety of food tasting is important for babies to get a taste for it.
My baby girl started her animal protein journey with fish. She refused chicken for the longest time.But mutton she liked from a pretty young age( around one and a half years)
I didn’t touch chicken throughout my pregnancy. Did you know mothers diet in pregnancy determines a child’s food habit?
She loves her eggs too.Boiled fried or poached.
I have noticed for all animal proteins she likes crunchy which will then melt in the mouth (She loves a crunchy Ilish fry).Not chewy or oily.
Since she liked the crunchy texture and I burn stuff while cooking I went and bought an air fryer.I wrote about it here.
The airfryer keeps the taste intact and the food doesn’t lose its colour ,with a fraction of the calories.
Want Super tips to deal with fussy eaters?