Wise mothers can outsmart their children and trick them into actually liking foods that are good for them. These tips will show you how to get a child to eat right without tears or tantrums, fancy foods or fuss.
Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 tend to be finicky eaters, but patience and offering good food choices can lay the foundation for healthy eating habits.
What about the toddler who refuses to eat meat? It is better not to make an issue of a child’s refusal to eat a specific food — just be sure you are providing substitutes while continuing to offer meat to your child, and one day he’ll surprise you by eating it.
Toddlers can be encouraged to eat vegetables by serving them in an unusual or unfamiliar form, such as creamed or in long, slender pieces. Try serving raw vegetables at the start of a meal when the child is hungriest. Some fruit, such as peaches and apricots, have many of the same nutrients as vegetables. Ages 4 to 6 are crucial to a child’s nutritional development — it is during this period that eating patterns and attitudes about food form. Reinforcing good habits now can help your child eat wisely for a lifetime.
Finicky Eater Guidelines:
- Don’t use food as a pacifier or a reward, nor withhold it as punishment.
- Don’t worry about a child eating too little. If your child’s growth rate is normal, he is eating enough.
- Set a good example. Children copy their parents’ likes and dislikes.
- Limit the amount of undesirable foods you keep in the house. Have on hand plenty of juice, fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt and popcorn.
- Don’t force your child to eat a food he dislikes, but insist the child eat three different foods at each meal.
- Don’t be afraid to set limits. Say no to unhealthy foods and explain why the child should eat healthy ones. School-age children need special care. Because children between the ages of 7 and 10 start growing at a rapid rate, they need more nutrients, pound for pound, than adults. Yet they’re so active they may forget to eat.
Start your child out with a healthy breakfast, pack a good lunch and being understanding at dinner. For children to whom dinner seems an intrusion into their activities, let them come to the table, be excused when “full,” then return for dessert. When they come back, offer a second helping of dinner.
Children in the preteen years have special needs — particularly calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, thiamin and riboflavin. The time of greatest growth and nutrient needs — ages 11 to 13 — is one in which kids often could not care less about healthy eating. Rather than preach, focus on the preteen’s interest in being slim, attractive and athletic, and take into account food preferences.