Have a fussy eater at the table? Do mealtimes often turn into tantrums? Try these tips and your tot will be enjoying her meals in no time.
WORDS TEO KUAN YEE
Take this as a golden window of opportunity to expose your child to new foods. Offer a variety of healthy foods often to provide him with the opportunity to taste the food when he is ready – if not at lunch, then during an afternoon snack. Give a small amount and praise your child for eating – even if he only consumes a tiny portion.
Make it fun
You could try playing a game – blindfold your child before introducing a new food and ask him to guess what it is, according to Annabel Karmel who also advises parents to be upfront about fruit and vegetables by telling them where they come from and why they are good for health. Providing your child with facts make them more interested in what they are eating. One way is to offer the new item as a starter – in a little teacup or saucer so that your child could try that, in addition to their main meal.
Involve your child
Children enjoy watching their mother prepare meals in the kitchen and may be keen to help – get them involved in simple and safe tasks like squeezing fresh orange juice or cracking eggs as a means of stimulating their appetite. Place some healthy snacks such as low-sugar biscuits or gluten-free flakes on a low shelf within their easy reach to curb sudden hunger pangs that your little ones need to quell fast.
One way to get junior to try vegetables is to prepare foods with smashed vegetables, for instance in tomatoes for pasta sauce, mashed potatoes or cooked baby carrots. If your baby is teething, thinly slice vegetables such as cucumber and carrot into sticks to make it easier for their little fingers to pick up and gnaw on.
Eat your meals together as a family if possible. As your child’s role model, practise what you preach by including more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Get junior to see what he is eating and not be distracted by the TV or an electronic device so that he is aware of food options and is more aware of what he is eating.
When planning your meal, try to include food from the four main categories such as milk and dairy products, protein, carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables. Even if it is your child’s usual favourites from each group, persevere – slowly introduce other foods or the foods your child did not like earlier and try them again.
No matter how frustrated you feel, you should not show your negative emotions. Instead, shower them with loads of praise if they try something new or eat well. Reward your child with stickers to encourage your child to try new foods and get him a prize, say a small toy, when he has collected sufficient stickers, to motivate him to continue.