Parents of toddlers and preschoolers are often faced with the problem of providing proper nutrition to their children. During this stage, a child may only want to eat a number of food items and it is exceptionally hard to introduce a food, which they are not accustomed to eating. As much as parents would like their children to eat a balanced diet, it can even be hard especially if their food preferences haven’t matured yet.
Younger children would readily give up a meal for play time. Many parents would always try to insist that their child will eat at a particular time of the day. Although this is good, young children tend to eat only when they are hungry. Never threaten the child to eat when you want him to because it will only reinforce power struggle. This will not be helpful to children who want to exercise their autonomy.
Snacks and liquid beverages can be filling, but it is not advisable to give your child any of these food items one hour before a meal. A child who is hungry is more motivated to eat as compared to those who are partially full. Parents need to be creative to entice a child to eat. It may be good to purchase eating utensils with your child’s favorite cartoon character to make eating a fun activity. Aside from that, parents should also go the extra mile in terms of preparing attractive food items. Children may want to try food that is pleasing to their eyes. Parents then need to focus on shape, color and aroma in presenting their meals.
Children will always have favorite meals. If your child likes breakfast because he likes cereals and pancake, then by all means offer it during lunch or dinner. Young children will not know any distinction between breakfast, lunch or dinner. The important thing is that he will get the nutrients from healthy food choices. Parents should also not give up easily when they introduce new food items. A child may need repeated exposure to the new food, in order for him to be convinced to give it a try. It is also good to set a routine for eating. Serve food at approximately the same time everyday to establish a routine. In order for your child to pay attention to the food, you should minimize distractions. Do not incorporate food with play in order not to confuse your child with the purpose of meal times.
Children are smart and they can easily point out some food items that they dislike in a meal. Thus parents need to devise a plan, on how to sneak in vegetables or fruits into a child’s favorite dish. Pasta can be one of the early favorites of children. Parents then need to jump on the opportunity to mix needed vegetables in their diet. Pureed vegetables like broccoli or green peppers can be mixed to spaghetti sauce, without your children knowing it. Incorporating “hidden” vegetables to your child’s favorite dishes can be a good way in giving him proper nutrients, without going through a meal time battle.
It may also help if you involve your child in the process of preparing food. In the grocery, allow him to help you choose fruits and other healthy food items. This gives him a sense of control as to what he would rather eat. Make food preparation a fun activity and allow your child to participate.
It may also be best not to purchase food items that you don’t want your child to eat. It can be hard to discourage children to eat junk foods if they see it around the house, or if they see you eat it. Parents should set a good example so that children will try to emulate the good practice. It can be hard to feed children especially when they are very picky. However parents can breathe a sigh of relief because as children will grow older, their food preferences will also mature.