Parents often find themselves questioning how well their child eats and can end up lamenting the difficulty they find themselves in during feeding times. What many fail to realize is worrying about this can actually be part of the problem and this can hinder the success you can have when feeding your child.
We all know there is a tendency for some parents to brag about how well their child eats or and seeing another child wolf down a broccoli salad, when your child won’t even have a french fry, can leave you feeling helpless. If you are feeling helpless or if you just want to learn a few hacks that can help you with feeding time, then these simple suggestions can help you. All it takes is a small change in attitude or approach to the way you feed your child.
So what can you do to avoid looking for a crowbar to pry open your child’s mouth just to get them to take one small bite?
1. Make your child feel part of the family
You may be thinking…what do you mean make my child feel part of the family??? My child is my pride and joy! Well I don’t mean it in the traditional sense. I am talking about at the dinner table…
Often parents allocate a separate time to feed their child because its easier, less hassle or to eat peacefully themselves (which is totally understandable because when do you ever get time for yourself?). However, this can be a hindrance to the association your child makes to eating. If you include your child at the dinner table with you and your family, the child can see other family members and yourself eating, which will acclimatize your child to the idea of eating.
Even if it seems like it’s really difficult, you should be persistent and try to get your child to eat with the family as often as possible. This is also great for the future as the saying ‘a family that eats together, stays together’ comes to mind. So before anything else, start including your child at the dinner table, whether on your lap or in a high chair, let the child feel he or she is part of the family.
2. Share your food with your child
Not only is it important to have your child with you when you eat your meals, but actually sharing your meals with your children can make life so much easier. Many parents tend to prepare food separately for children, or give them food that is completely different. Although this is a good thing to do as children have different dietary requirements, sharing food with your child, whether it’s yours with them or you eating theirs, can normalise eating habits for the child.
So try sharing mealtimes with your child to make him or her eat better. Even just tasting the food you are giving your child, encourages him to eat it. Your child will be more likely to eat with less fuss and be more accustomed to the idea of eating. The simple fact of the matter is that children need to feel like what they are doing is normal, and the best way to show them this, is to lead by example.
3. Talk to your child about food
Again this is linked to the previous two, and a great tip. Do you tell your child what they are eating? Do you talk to them about how great it is to eat? Many people may already do this, but if you make this a conscious effort to speak and talk about food, your child is more likely to eat. You should mention the names of the different foods, tell them whether it’s hot or cold, or just talk about eating.
Tell them it will make them big or strong, and make them more happy. Even if they are not at an age where they understand, it can still be effective and make them more likely to eat and even enjoy it. While you are cooking or preparing, tell them what you are doing and give them an excited feeling about it. This really does work and make them more comfortable about eating it.
4. Put small amounts of unwanted food regularly
This is a great tip for when your child does not like a certain type of food like vegetables or meat. You can add a few pieces to their plate everyday and try not to make a fuss about them. Even if your child ignores the alien pieces of broccoli or chicken, keep persisting until the time will arrive when your child will show interest.
5. Give your child a spoon immediately
Many parents think children don’t need cutlery until they are at a certain age. However, the sooner you give your child a spoon, the quicker they will get used to it. Whether they start eating with it or not, just give them the spoon so that they can get used to holding it and it’s not an unfamiliar object when they do start eating. It is definitely worth investing in a bowl and spoons early on for them to play around with. It makes the transition to independent eating much quicker.
6. Create a happy environment
This is key. Many times parents forget that their stress and attitude can project onto their children. If you keep a happy and inviting environment during dinner time, it can have a big impact on the way your child approaches food. When you feed your child make sure you are smiling and creating a positive atmosphere. Reassure them, and make them feel comfortable during the whole meal. This will be really beneficial in the future.
I hope these handy tips will help you as much as they have helped me. The most important ingredient of these tips is patience. Don’t let the process get to you. You will always have ups and downs, you can always keep a smile on your face for your little one, no matter how much the situation is frustrating for you. Happy eating!!
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