How to Make Your Child Eat Food
The world would have been so much better only if we didn’t have to struggle so much to make our kids eat or probably make them eat the food they should be eating.
I started off weaning my son when he was 5 months old. As per the Department of Health weaning should start when your baby is 6 months old but having spoken to my doctor and a few friends who seem to have good expertise in this area I decided to put him on solids one month before the set date.
My son wouldn’t even open his mouth to eat it let alone eat it; he would just sniff it, make a face and turn around his face. It was so devastating to see the food go waste which you so laboriously prepared. Not that I would throw away the meal; I had to eat it myself or at least a portion of it but that was not the task.
But I kept at it, more than to my son consoling myself that one day he is going to finish the meal.
With time I understood some tricks of the trade and would like to share them with you guys as well:
- Consistency :
When starting your baby on solids there is a pretty good chance that they are not going to love it. Now let’s suppose they like it a few times, there are going to be a dozen of times when they are going to spit it out on your face.
Here Consistency is the key. Be consistent and patient – What you achieve is that you are sending out a message to your baby that from here forth along with milk you need to take your solid meals as well. We all sit as a family and eat.
Gradually introduce and set a rhythm rather than right away starting with a 3-time meal. Establish a routine and see what they like and don’t like.
Increase portion sizes slowly as they grow, there are different stages of weaning and their body requires different portion sizes of meal as they grow along. Just make sure you keep increasing a bit at a time.
Talk to your doctor if you are not sure of the portion size and other aspects.
2. Start off Early :
This is very imperative that you start off early and not wait until 6 months or 12 months of age before putting them on solids. The later you start the fussier they are going to be.
Many parents start off as early as 4 months of age. But here I would say each parent can make their own independent decision depending on their child’s development, milestones and comfort level.
As I always say only you know your child better than anyone else.
Start with purees and smooth textured and lump-free purees. There are a lot of baby cereals available in the market as well. You can start off with fruit or vegetable puree, steamed and mashed grains or runny purees.
But the main aim is to start at an early age. Ideally, I believe 5 months is the right age because they are going to take a lot of time to adjust themselves to this new change. So by the time they are 1 year they should have adapted to a set system.
3. New Textures and Flavors :
Introduce all kinds of textures and flavors to your child to avoid a picky eater later on.
A child shows more interest in what the parent is eating so let them try on, while you are having your meal if they want to try a piece of your smoothie, let them have a few spoonfuls.
They are only going to know what they like or don’t like when they eat a variety of different flavors and textures of foods.
Many parents are afraid of choking. While you have to be very cautious of it but still take chances and give them tiny bits and pieces of finger food so that they can naturally learn how to chew or learn to spit out when they can’t swallow.
4. Suspected Intolerance:
Have you ever wondered why does a child who is raised in a farm has no poultry or farm animal allergies? It’s because they are being raised in that environment and their body gets used to the ambiance.
Never avoid food due to suspected intolerance or allergen. It can lead to poor intake of nutrients.
A child needs all the kinds of colored fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, and fish in their diet for their proper development. Just do not avoid any particular food assuming the child is going to dislike it.
5. Tiring them out:
Worried that your child is not eating properly?
There might be a reason for it which is they are not hungry.
Encourage them or play with them, take a stroll in the park, let them jump, run, flip, stream. The idea is to tire them out so that they are exhausted and they feel hungry.
Remember, only a hungry child is going to eat more and better food. During these hunger pangs along with their meal, you can introduce something super healthy as well.
They are going to be so hungry that they won’t mind taking a bite of the broccoli or spinach sandwich which otherwise they wouldn’t dare to touch.
6. Having Realistic Goals :
A lot of mothers have unrealistic goals when it comes to feeding their children. Let them fall in love with food at their own pace.
Don’t obsess over how little they eat. As long as they are happy and full nothing matters.
7. Create meal times as happy time:
Let go if your child is not willing to eat, forcing them food down their throat is only going to create a bad impression in their minds and dreading the dinner hours.
Be it Breakfast, lunch or dinner- it should be a family time for the child and creating a fuss about how little they eat is only going to distant them away.
8. Give them Choices :
Before cooking ask for their opinion, add your inputs in the discussion – what other members of the family would like to eat.
Ask for their help in meal planning or simple house chores or weekly meal planning.
Kids are more than happy to help; you just need to direct their energies in the right path.
9. Cut back on Sugar or Junk:
You cannot cut off junk food or sugars entering their body. Instead what you can do is limit it.
Having fewer cookies or pastries means more of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products.
10. Nutritional Needs:
As much as protein is essential for the body, carbohydrates should provide 50-60% of the energy a child needs from food. That is why a child needs a wholesome meal.
For example: For lunch, you can serve them rice/roti which is carbohydrates with chicken or fish which can cover their protein intake along with a bowl of lentils soup which again comes into proteins and fats category and add some curd as side accomplishing their dairy intake as well in a single meal.
Make sure to add some fibrous foods in their diet as well as improve their water intake by regularly reminding them or teach your child to serve herself. Water is very essential for their digestion prevents constipation and proper blood circulation in the body.
Of course with various other benefits.
In short, keep at it and one day you will succeed.
Never compare your child with others because every child has different needs. Even as siblings they may show different eating traits.
As a parent, the only thing you can decide is what and when to serve and let them decide how much to eat.
Hope you liked the article, please comment and do let me know.
Merrin is a SAHM, a mother of a highly energetic boy and we live in the city of World’s Tallest Skyscraper. Every child is different but as parents, our struggles are very much similar. So let’s share our stories with each other and enjoy the joyful ride.
I hope through this we can share laughter, empowerment and more experiences with each other.