Ask any mom what her biggest task in raising a child is and the answer in most cases will invariably be - getting the child to eat well. Moms are forever troubled about either the child just not eating, or not eating enough, or eating all the wrong foods or taking over an hour for a single meal, the stories are endless. From experience and having seen hundreds of moms each day, we charted out the following strategies in training infants and toddlers to eat right, early in childhood. These good eating habits will last a lifetime.
So put on your ‘be patient’ cape and follow these strictly for at least a week or two and see the dramatic change in your child’s eating habits.
- Have the child sit with you or a family member during meal time, at least for all major meals.
- Let the child eat on her/his own if s/he wishes to, even if it is a bit messy. With time, s/he will learn to eat properly seeing everyone and with some practice. Be patient.
- Offer the child to eat a couple of times. If s/he refuses repeatedly, DO NOT FORCE her/him to eat or DO NOT FORCE FEED. Just let her/him go. Eventually, when the child does feel hungry after 1-2 hours and demands food, then offer the same food that you had offered earlier. This trains the child that there is no escaping home food. At this point, do not let the meal be substituted with chips/crackers/biscuits/cookies/bread/instant noodles etc. This is extremely important. The child might throw a tantrum for a couple of meals, but within a week, rest assured, s/he will learn to eat all meals as offered and made at home, with the family.
- Ask other family members, especially grandparents, to cooperate when you are being strict with the child. Their love for the child should not be misdirected in spoiling her/his eating habits.
- Do not run behind the child to feed him. This way the child learns that sitting and finishing a meal in 15 minutes is better than being fed for over an hour, repeatedly 3-4 times a day.
- Ensure that except on weekends, no one offers the child ice creams, colas, cream biscuits, cookies, instant noodles, chocolates and any other junk foods.
- Ensure that these junk foods are a ‘special treat’ for the child and given as a reward for good eating habits followed through the week. Also, the treat should never substitute a meal. It is to be given in addition to the meal, as a perk for being a good eater.
Try these out and tell us what worked!