Mistake Parents Make While Feeding Their Toddlers
Feeding your toddlers is a daily task (nightmare for many). A picky eater can be frustrating for a parent. Personally, I had read a stack of books, joined numerous Facebook groups to ask fellow parents about weaning. Unfortunately, feeding children is not a “fits-all” kind of process. Here’s a few mistake every parent makes while feeding their toddlers and a few suggestions to keep your child on track with healthy eating habit.
Mistake 1: No Force Feeding
Never force feed your child. It only increases distress for both the parents and the child. It is a momentarily solution for you to feel satisfied that your child ate something, but trust me it increases food aversion in kids and they start hating mealtimes.
Instead, encourage self feeding so that the child eats by themselves and can choose their quantity of food. Do not fuss if the child refuses food. Just give a break and offer again after a while.
Mistake 2: No Distraction Feeding
When I say distraction, it can be anything from television to singing rhymes to feed a child. Distraction feeding results in overeating and the child may end up not enjoying the food. Offering different texture of food improves sensory processing. This can only get difficult in time as an addiction.
Instead, get them seated during the family meal time. Offer them food in their own plate, by doing this you can imbibe self feeding habits and also save sometime for yourself from running behind them to feed.
Mistake 3: Family Meal Time/ Same food as the family eats
Once the baby completes 1 year of age, they can eat what the family eats. By doing this, they get used to different textures and taste. You can always regulate the spice level and offer accordingly.
Mistake 4: Quick food recipes for picky eaters
Every parents concern is to not starve their child and hence they fall prey to the quick recipes for their picky eaters. Never cook on demand.
Instead offer their favorite item as the part of a meal. Say your child likes roti (flatbread), then offer a spinach roti or aloo (potato) roti. By doing this, child gets the desired nutrition and is eating his /her favorite food. Kids aren’t tricky like we quote them to be but it is all about how well we handle their likes and dislikes.
Mistake 5: Mess is OK
Mess is absolutely fine. It is an extra added task for the parents to clean, but it is okay for them to get messy while eating. That is when they explore the texture which in turn is good for their sensory activity. Never panic when they get messy and just take away their plate from them. This creates confusion and they never try it again.
Instead be cool and calm and allow them to get as messy as they like. That is how they figure out how to eat. They will gradually learn once they are a part of family meal time by looking at others.
Mistake 6: Food as reward
Rewarding toddlers with sugary food like candies and chocolate is like sending them down the wrong path of unhealthy eating habits. Say, you ask your toddler to finish his homework for which in return, he/she gets a candy. What information are you sending? Candies are reward worthy and desirable whereas the healthy ones are not.
Instead, reward them with something they like to do or a toy.
Mistake 7: Insisting on finishing their plates
How do you feel when someone offers a way lot more food than you can eat and sits right in front of your nose to make sure you finish every grain of rice on the plate? Does this ring any bell to you? That’s exactly how a toddler feels when they are forced to finish their plate. Parents usually give larger portions than necessary.
Instead, allow them to eat until they like and ask them to let you know when they are done. Clean up as soon as they show disinterest. Having said that, you can always create a balanced meal like an egg, rice , greens/veggies. Avoid snacks too close to their meal time.
Mistake 8: Feeding unhealthy snacks
Snacks should contain nutrition and beneficial nourishment needed for their growth and development. Offering cookies and candy bars regularly will get them used to eating high-calorie foods.
Instead, offer vegetables, fruits, dry fruits, dairy products or protein as their snacks. I offer fruits, vegetable cutlet, cottage cheese for my daughters snack time.
Mistake 9: Offering juice
As a pediatrician recommends, a toddler can drink a maximum of 100-120 ml of 100% concentrated juice. Any more than that adds up too much of sugar and in turn may result in your child not being hungry.
Instead, offer whole fruits in place of juice and keep them hydrated with water alone. If at all you choose to give them a glass of juice let it not be a concentrated one.
Mistake 10: Meal preferences
A child cannot handle a lot of flavors. When they say they do not like a meal be considerate and allow them to choose what they like.
Mistake 11: Too soon to give up
Every child is different. What worked for someone might not work for you. When a child shows disinterest do not assume they cannot self feed or that they are picky eaters.
Instead, give them some time to figure out their food and taste preferences by offering the same meal few more times.
I have experimented a lot on my daughters eating preferences and I am still figuring it out. I wrote these pointers down based on my experience. Hope it helps in your journey of weaning.
For more questions do stop by and comment below and let me know your views.
Until next time…
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