Eating for the young

Zayan is currently getting on my nerves. Because he.will.not.eat.his.lunch. I’m almost sure it’s because he ate a whole biscuit and so will only eat a lil bit of his lunch (Lunch is bread, grilled meat and tomatoes. It’s basically left overs because I didnt realise his frozen food stash is finished).

So now I’m sitting away from him and seeing (with the corner of my eye) if he will eat it without the pressures of having my eyes boring into him and my breathing down his neck.

I know there’s a lot of mummies out there who has feeding/eating problems with their kids. So here’s the tips I got from our nutrition lectures from dieticians and from sitting in clinics with dieticians:

1. If you have difficulty getting your child to eat during meal times…

– leave the plate in front of your child and let him eat without you hovering over. If they’re younger (ie toddlers), be around to make sure they don’t choke – or in my case, throw the food down the table – but pretend that you’re busy doing something else. Be at the nearest table or read a book whilst they eat or something. Sometimes when they realise it’s not a game anymore or the pressures of eating are released, they’ll start poking on their food and realise it aint bad.

– Put a time period for mealtimes. Sitting there for an hour whilst they eat will just be painful for you and kid. Also, for the older ones, you want them to realise they cant play or dilly dally with eating. So say give it 20 – 30 minutes. If the kid is still not eating or eating verryyyy verrryyyy slowly, then take away the food. Don’t say anything. Pick up their plate and don’t say anything.

– Then dont offer anything else immediately after. (Like his/her favourite snack) or else child will think by not eating, he/she will get the snack.

2. If you’re scared that your child is not eating enough/still hungry…

– children will eat or drink if they’re hungry. If they’re regularly drinking milk/fluids, then that’s good cos at least they’re hydrating themselves.

– offer something in next hour or two. Make sure it’s not something of a sugary snack or crisps – to promote healthy eating. Instead offer healthy crackers or cheese or some savoury sandwich. Or fruits with high fibre like bananas. Dairy products are good as it builds their calcium store!

3. General tips

– Eat with your child. Children eat better when they see people around them eating (or for the older child, eating the same thing).

– No TV or ipads during mealtimes. Whilst this is a good distraction, this promotes unhealthy eating social behaviours. (As a child, I used to read Archie comics during mealtimes! Balik2 kana tagur, dibawa jua buku comic atu)

– Try different textures of the same food. So they don’t like boiled potatoes. How about mashed potatoes? Roast potatoes? Potatoes with herbs? Potatoes mixed with pasta?

– Rotate their ‘menu’. I cook a big batch of food for Zayan and put them in the freezer. After awhile, we realise that he’ll reject food that he eats way too many times. So now I have three (or four) different kind of food – either rice, potatoes or pasta mixed in with whatever meat or veg – at any on time.

– From an early age, get them to try different vegs and fruits. And if they don’t like it, try and try again.

– If mama is a fussy eater, they can pick up this vibe too. Children copy way more than we think they do. So M has made me into a vegetarian lover (Except brussel sprouts. EGH.) since pregnancy with the threat of ‘our kid will ask why dont you eat it mama?’. That said, they are a lot of fussy parents and the child is ok with their food!

– Get children more involved with the preparation of food. If they help with it, they understand more of what they’re eating. And the more enthusiastic they are to eat ‘what they made’.

My problem is that Zayan wants to be all independent and not want us to feed him. This results in messy eating (grrrr) and food is likely to drop to the floor in his over-enthusiastic eating. M, who can be OCD with tidiness, gets really frustrated with this. I try to reason that it helps with his fine motor skills and he’ll master eating with a spoon/fork faster the more he does it by himself. Now at 16 months, he can eat with a fork but yet to master having the food in his mouth 100% of the time when he uses a spoon (success rate likely to be 50% – 50:50 chance of food dropping down the chair than into his mouth).

Ok gtg. Zayan getting frustrated. We gave him rice since he’s refused the bread. And now wants a second helping of rice. Rice fiend!

Lotsa love,
me

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