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Developing Eating Habits Among Children

Hard Time for Mothers

Along with the lack of sleep and not getting time for themselves, mothers also complain often about how it is so difficult for them to feed their child. Children after certain age become so active and playful that it is very tough to make them sit in one place and feed them till they are full. This is a very challenging task that a mother goes through every day for every meal. Children, especially of one to four years of age, tend to prefer playtime over mealtime because:

  • Food attracts them not in the sense of eating but to play with their fruits or colorful bowls and plates.
  • Children often cry when they are forced to sit on a high chair or boosters because at this age they want constant movement and they do not prefer any unnecessary control.

Many mothers complain that their child eats properly one day and the next day he/she throws tantrums. The reason being is:

Children are moody, cranky and unpredictable. This is a fact which many people do not accept. No matter whatever you try and how much pain you take, you can do nothing about it. It’s in their nature. So instead of feeling guilty of being a bad mother, always remember that children will be children. Their mood is the one who decides whether they want to eat something or not and how much; and that will go on till a child grows up. But you can always try and change your child’s mood. Try to entertain your child while feeding him.

Food & Games

Try to play with your child while feeding him. You can sing songs or nursery rhymes to sustain your child’s attention. One of the most interesting things you can do is make imaginary characters of foods and try to narrate a story out of it. Every child loves stories, and the characters might make him involved in this whole process while you slowly get him to gulp the food in his mouth. 

Make the Food Exciting

As I said, children get attracted to food. So try to make your food healthy, delicious and physically appealing. Serving a boring bowl of oats everyday or giving the same veggies prepared in the same manner daily will never fascinate a young child. We too want variety every day and so do children. Try to provide them with something unusual every day. You can give those veggies but try to mix them with colorful blueberries and cherries, add a little cheese on top as kids love cheese and serve them, they might like what they see and try to eat it. Similarly, you can give them plain rice with a blend of herbs that could make it yummy and a bowl of flavored fruit yogurt (there are a lot of organic fruit-flavored yogurts available in the market for the babies). In this way, you can stimulate their taste buds along with taking care of their health.

In simple words, presentation plays an important role here too. Also remember that considering the presentation, do not compromise on the health of the child. Do not use any food colors or artificial preservatives just to make the food appealing. Introduce a new food every day. This can make your child prone to more flavors and varieties of food.

Tips for the Mommy

The schedule is important in eating as well. Have proper meal times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so as to make the child more involved in eating right and at the right time. You should not give milk to the child when it’s dinner time. Try to give milk at least one hour after the dinner or before his good night sleep, so that he could eat well and sleep well because children that do not eat well often do not sleep well.

Do not forget that milk is still a very important source of nutrition and a complete food. So it’s good that your child has started his solid food, but continue giving him milk as well; as deficiency of milk could hinder your child’s growth and development. Also, do not give excessive milk that could make your child eat less solid food as, after the first birthday, solid food is equally important. Talk to your pediatrician as to what amount of milk should be given.

A Big NO-NO

Many parents switch on the T.V as soon as their child is ready to eat. Please avoid doing that. Of course, you can give something to the child to distract him as children tend to be very distracting but if possible try avoiding T.V or mobile phones as they become a habit in children after some time and when suppose these things are not around, children do not eat.

Everybody loves sweets, and so do the young children. Children have a sweet tooth, and they won’t mind indulging in some of their preferred ice-cream and pastries. As much as they love sweets, they are not good for a child’s health. So only give them occasionally, like half a scoop of ice-cream in 2-3 weeks or a small bowl of jelly custard once in a while. I know it’s very harsh but too much sugar tends to form deformities in young children. Children anyways eat little and serving them with a little dessert every day will make them full which might make them eat less food; which is more essential. So creating a balanced diet for them is vital, so they get the proper amount of nutrition for their good health, growth, and development.

Healthy Options

Replace unhealthy options with a healthy choice. Instead of giving a fruit juice that contains sugar and preservatives, try to make the child eat a whole raw fruit. Make a child’s food equally tasty as yours but with very less proportion of oil and spices. When a child craves something sweet, provide them with fruits, yogurt, dates or dry fruits instead of ice-creams, candies or cakes.

Your child’s health depends on how you take care of him. So leave everything aside and dedicate your time to developing eating habits in your child which could help him stay away from illness so that he could grow as a healthy human being.

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