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Your toddler is at it again, exercising his independence by deciding he doesn’t want to eat the food you have made.
He doesn’t eat anything you’ve prepared or put in front of him at the table.
Worse still, his stubbornness lasts for days on end.
If you approach a strong-willed child head on, chances are you are just going to get into a battle of wits.
Strong willed children want to win, and so do you! However, you can persuade your child to eat by learning to cope with a picky eater, creating a positive eating environment, and serving appropriate food.
Understand your child's feelings.
Instead of thinking to yourself, “For what possible reason could my child be refusing to eat tonight? I cooked the best meal tonight”, try putting yourself in their shoes.
Your child may be struggling with a fear of food.
Some toddlers, usually around the age of 2, are caught in this dilemma.
It is called food neophobia, which is the fear of trying new food.
This is normal and most toddlers experience this at some point.
Sometimes, it takes around 10 to 15 times before your child becomes familiar with a certain food.
Be patient enough to understand that their taste buds will adjust to it in time.
Expose your child to different foods
Let your child become familiar with what you want him to eat by broadening his culinary horizons.
Offer your child a variety of different foods from each of the food groups and let them choose what they want to eat.
Allowing him to try various types of food will let him choose the foods he likes, and give you more insight as to his tastes.
Place the foods you are going to offer in bowls or on plates and let your child choose what they want on their plate.
Most parents make the mistake of introducing new foods too fast and if the toddler pushes the food away, they give up easily.
When introducing new foods to a toddler, you should be ready to reintroduce it at least a minimum of 10 times.
You have to keep at it, because toddlers have the resilience to refuse food they don’t want.
Make food more attractive and interesting
Think of ways to make food more enjoyable, to allow your child to have fun trying new things.
You can also involve your child in making the food, such as by letting your toddler crack an egg into a bowl or shake some dried herbs into a pot.
Try decorating the food in a way that your child will enjoy.
You can make food more colorful, but still keep it healthy.
For example, try adding toppings like melted cheese, tomato sauce, or applesauce.
Cut pancakes, pizzas, and sandwiches into interesting shapes and patterns.
You can use a cookie cutter for a more precise cut.
Try planting vegetables in your garden and let your child be involved in growing the vegetables.
They might be more interested to eat them after taking care of these veggies.
Prompt your child to exercise and be active.
In order to work up an appetite, your child needs to be exercising and using up energy throughout the day.
Make sure your child is involved in a daily exercise routine.
Play sports with your child during the day.
Try swimming classes or peewee football.
However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t let your child become too tired to eat.
Limit your child's fluid intake right before mealtimes
If you are trying to wean before your baby is less than 1 year, you need to replace breastmilk witDo not give your child large drinks right before eating, to avoid loss of appetite.
If your child is thirsty, give him water.
Remember, a child who drinks a lot of milk throughout the day may be less hungry than a child who is limited to water.h formula.
Substituting breastmilk with formula one feeding at a time for several weeks each will eventually wean both you and the baby.
Experiment by switching out the breast for the bottle.
If you usually offer the breast each time the baby wants to feed, try offering the bottle first and see what happens.
Alternatively, if you nurse the baby to sleep, when they are just starting to fall asleep, slip the breast out of their mouth and slip in the bottle’s nipple.
This may help your baby get used to the taste and the bottle nipple without even realizing it.
If your baby won’t take a bottle, try different things, like having someone else (like dad) try, offering the bottle when the baby is tired, or use a sippy cup instead.
If your baby is over 12 months, you can substitute breastmilk with whole cow’s milk.
Create a consistent schedule for your child’s meals
Decide on how many times you plan to feed your toddler throughout the day and be consistent with this schedule.
Ideally, you can have 3 main meals and 2 snacks in between them.
Give your child a heads-up 10 to 15 minutes before mealtime.
Serve meals to your toddler at the same times each day.
This works well as your child will begin to anticipate mealtime.
At eight months of age, your baby can move on from mashed vegetable puree to chewing on small cubes of steamed vegetables.
A variety of vegetables can be incorporated into the baby’s diet, by adding it to khichdi or by making a steamed vegetable bowl.
Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, Asparagus,green peas, pumpkin can be slowly introduced into the diet.
Limit your child’s mealtime to 30 minutes to enforce the schedule
Let him eat his fill during that span of time.
If he is not done eating after 30 minutes, take away his food and wait for the next scheduled mealtime.
In between, you can give your child a healthy snack if they are very hungry.
However, do not offer snacks directly before or after a schedule mealtime, as this will break down the schedule you have set up.
Do not spend too much time pressing your child to eat.
This will only make him anxious and frightened.
Prepare food with your child.
Getting your child involved in food preparation is a great way to have them feel more connected to their food.
Your child could do basic food handling, like mixing ingredients or spreading fruit jam on crackers.
He also could participate by helping you do the plating, which could be appealing to him.
These simple tasks will encourage your child to eat their own creations.
Make shopping lists and shop with your child.
Bring your child with you as you shop for the ingredients that you need to cook.
This way he will be able to be more familiarized with the food that you are preparing.
While in the supermarket, give him a little background about the food and its nutrients.
Make a list of the food that he has eaten during the past week.
You can try making a new menu, which should include the 4 main food groups (starchy foods, protein, dairy products, fruits and vegetables).
Do not include soda and junk food on your grocery list, because these products can have a very detrimental effect on your child’s health.
Take note of your child’s allergies and make sure that you do not include these ingredients in your menu.
Be aware of dangerous foods that might cause poisoning or choking, like raw or partially cooked eggs, raw carrots, whole nuts, popcorn, tea and coffee, or fish that might contain mercury.
Stick to 1 alternative food to defuse a power struggle
Strong-willed kids as young as 2 or 3 know when and how to make parents cave in.
They may refuse and refuse until you give in to their whims.
However, giving in is a surefire way for them to get what they want.
Often, your child is refusing to eat not because they don’t want to, but because there is another food more enticing to them than what you have prepared.
If your toddler adamantly refuses to eat his meal, you can tell him he has an alternative; give 2 healthy choices only.
Be aware of mood swings
Keep in mind that the hormonal changes of reducing milk supply can affect your moods.
Weaning is a psychological experience as well as physical.
Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you are feeling.
Don’t be ashamed of wanting to cry during weaning.
You will probably feel a bit sad, and tears are a way to help you grieve the end of this season of closeness with your baby.
Create a Positive Eating Environment
Eating together with your child can make eating a communal and fun time for your child.
Although your toddler won’t be able to say so, it can mean a lot to them to spend time eating together as a family.
You and your other family members may have tight schedule, but it is very important to make sure you share 1 meal per day together.
Avoid arguments during mealtime.
Make your family’s mealtime pleasant.
Share food with your toddler.
Eat the same food as your toddler to make him feel better about eating it.
Do not give him special food and don’t eat special food yourself, either.
Demonstrate that you enjoy every bite of your food
Toddlers often learn through imitation, so showing how much you enjoy your food can set a positive example for your toddler.
Be a good food role model; if you want your child to eat broccoli, you must show that you eat it, too.
Encourage your child to eat while you are eating
Always make positive comments about the food as you eat, to show your child how delicious it is.
Appearing convincing will make your child believe that the food is truly delicious.