It’s common for children to be fussy eaters. But there are certain concepts that may help ease your frustrations when your children are not 100% compliant during meal times. This may be either in terms of their approach to meals or in what they agree to eat.
The two behaviour patterns parents would notice include:
‘Neophobia’ refers to a toddler being wary of trying new foods. It is said to be a survival mechanism for toddlers so that they don’t poison themselves. This response usually peaks around 18 months and is more apparent in some toddlers than others.
2.Disgust & contamination fears
For children between the ages 3-5, they may dislike the look or smell of certain foods if they associate it with something they don’t have a good impression of. This could even be a food that they previously liked. For example, if a toddler learns about worms and does not like the idea of them he/she may refuse to eat spaghetti because of its resemblance to worms.
How should you deal with these changes?
Eating together as a family is a great way to slowly introduce new foods into your toddler’s diet. If a child sees others eating different foods he or she is more likely to feel confident about giving them a try as well. This may not always works but it will give your child more familiarity and encouragement with the foods. Children may have their own strong opinions and may not want to copy another adult or child. It is important to stay calm if this happens.
It is important not to get frustrated and give up when your child refuses a certain food. Sometimes the same food needs to be offered multiple times and in different ways before it can be happily accepted by toddlers.
Up until the age of 5 the appetite of a child is driven by their growth and energy needs so trying to force feed a toddler is often an ineffective strategy. Your child is unlikely to eat well all the time. They will have their ups and downs. It is important that your child doesn’t think of meal times as a time where they will be forced to eat foods they don’t like. This could create anxiety around meal times for your child and could eventually affect your child’s appetite. Throwing tantrums at meal times by crying, shouting or trying to escape also creates stress for you as a parent. Giving your child independence will help ease the stress and anxiety for you both.
As a parent you need to have a good understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet. Don’t fixate on particular foods in order to ensure a healthy diet for your child. A healthy diet is one that includes a wide variety of foods.
Having regular meals at set intervals and about two snacks a day can ensure your child reaches the required daily energy intake. Having these set meal times can also prevent your child from grazing throughout the day. However, it’s often hard for children to reach their nutrient intake just through the main meals, it’s good to incorporate additional nutritious snacks such as fruits and crackers with cheese.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian and nutritionist Juhi Bhambhaney. If you have any questions regarding health and nutrition, make an appointment with one of our dietitians. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today