When toddlers wean from bottles or nursing, food is their main source of nutrition, so it is understandable that parents will become stressed when children start refusing once loved foods. Parents often start out with the best intentions but the uncertainty of whether their child is eating enough can lead to some parents becoming short order cooks – with some making a different meal for everyone in the family.
How can I get my child to try new foods?
Exposure is key, always make food that has been refused alongside a healthy alternative that your child also likes. It takes on average 10 times for a child to try a particular food and get positive reinforcement before adding it to their repertoire. Keep in mind that this is not 10 days in a row! Older children may take 15-20 times to learn to accept a new texture or taste.
My baby wants out of his high chair after 5 mins, how can I improve this?
There are many benefits to eating together. The first hand positives being exposing the olfactory system to the new smells of the food you are cooking and bring to the table. Learning table manners and eating nicely start way before they are actually do it. When your baby joins you for dinner he is an active participant, it's his first introduction to how you eat and how he fits in in a meal setting.
If your child is on a food strike try not to automatically assume that your mealtime battles are a result of your child being lazy or just trying to test you. For most children going through a “picky” phase, it’s just that a phase that will pass. Generally speaking, if your child seems healthy and is alert and active, then they are probably eating enough. If your child is experiencing feeding difficulties they will be able to direct you to other professionals for additional help, such as speech/language pathologists, occupational therapists or child psychologists.
Calorie counting: Instead of focussing on what your child eats daily, keep a diary of everything they eat and drink over a week. This will give you a better indication of their overall intake and will allow for the normal variation seen day to day.
Let go! Too much attention when they are refusing to eat. Remember, it doesn’t matter how you frame it with threats or rewards, if a child refuses to eat and receives attention for it, the end result is that they will continue to use the unwanted behaviour to get more attention. Learn to let go a little to avoid projecting additional stress.