Many parents start to face feeding difficulties when their children are between two and six
years of age. Let the experts tell you how to handle your picky eater.
WORDS ANGEL DREWGUS
Children like routine and familiarity. They tend to eat according to their natural appetite for what, when and how much they need. So, it is often an uphill task to get the children to follow your routine. Children are also not easy to fool.
Dr Han Wee Meng, head and senior principal dietitian, Nutrition and Dietetics Department, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, offers a few suggestions on how to manage picky eaters.
6 Do’s and Don’ts
✔ Provide neutral exposure. Present the food to your child without any pressure or expectations. If your child does not try the food, simply remove it as a matter-of-fact without any fuss. Be patient and persistent in trying again on another occasion.
✔ Keep trying. As with any new person or object or place, not to mention food, anything unfamiliar will be treated with much reservation. If you repeatedly introduce the food, your child would gradually learn to recognise it and become less fearful to try.
✔ Give positive encouragement. Encourage your child to try new foods by applauding or rewarding for even tasting the food. Make the new food the “treat”, and it would be associated with happiness and joy.
✘ Do not coerce or force. Threatening or bribing would only make your child reluctant and even more resistant to try. Using guilt or blame on your child would also be counter-productive.
✘ Do not make it a point of saying that it’s a “foreign food”, or make any negative comments about the food.
✘ Do not expect success the first time. Your child may take a small bite of the new food, but spit it out almost immediately.
Even as adults, our preference for different tastes changes with time. This is also the case with children. Therefore, give your child the opportunity by re-introducing the food a few days or weeks later.