Most children experience some issues with eating. Sometimes a food will be offered 5-10 times before a child may accept it. So keep trying, but don’t force. You have the power to say “No!” to some foods and to provide children with only healthy things to eat.
- Food jag: a child only wants one food for a period of time and often will refuse all others
- Picky eater: only eats certain foods or small amounts of foods
- Grazing: a child will eat small amounts all day long. Toddlers often do this and it is normal for them
What about my child’s appetite?
Children’s appetites will vary for many reasons:
- Those who are in a growth spurt are hungrier and need more food.
- Toddlers eat much less than older children.
- Appetite can also be influenced by things and people around the child.
- If your child says he is not hungry, accept that.
- If your child is not hungry at mealtime, be sure that he has not been eating during the hour before the meal. Then, serve him very small portions and ask him to sit with the family, but don’t insist that he eat.
- Infants should be given their bottle or breast until they act uninterested. Offer again when the baby acts hungry.
Tips for working with eating issues
Serve a variety of foods:
- Foods in shapes, with dips, calling them funny names
- Finger foods
- Small portions
- Not too hot or cold
- Different flavors and textures
- Offer a variety of food, the same you serve everyone else.
- Give your child enough time to eat.
- If he does not eat it, remove the plate without commenting or fussing, but save the food to offer as a snack later, or offer another healthy snack.
- Stay positive and avoid calling your child a picky eater.
- Serve food in a divided plate.
- Watch what your children eat over several days. Their food intake usually balances.
Introducing new foods
- Give new foods when a child is hungry.
- Serve a favorite food with a new food.
- Offer a new food at least 10-15 times without pressure.
- Relax and calm down before mealtime.
- Don’t use food as a bribe or punishment.