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Food and Nutrition Topics..

You are here : home > Food and Nutrition > Fussy Children > Tips on Feeding Fussy Children

Tips on Feeding Fussy Children

Tips on Feeding Fussy Children

Parents all over the world take great care to ensure nutrition for their kids. It is very important for every parent that their children grow up with a healthy lifestyle, they grow up to be strong, so that they can spend the rest of their life in comfort. Childhood lays the foundation for many things that continue in our life into adulthood. How healthy children are in their childhood, the stage of life where they are still growing into their body (and this growth is rapid), also influences how healthy they would be as adult. Their metabolism, how well their body disposes what they don’t need, and how well their body absorbs the things that they do need is all dependent on the level of health in their childhood, and what their body has been used to for a long time.

It is also incredibly important to ensure that your child gets a healthy dose of all the nutrients they need during this time, because they are growing up very quickly, which means their body is also using the nutrients they need to upkeep their body. Children are very active, almost always running around or engaged in play. This takes up a good chunk of their energy, and hence parents also need to ensure their energy levels are always replenished.  

Parent’s care and need to ensure their children are getting everything they need in terms of their nutrition becomes a challenge when kids become fussy in eating. Unfortunately, this tends to happen for nearly every parent. Very rarely will you come across children that obediently eat what their parents serve them, which is food that is butritious and good for them. Even rarer, children who eat healthy food happily, without sulking. Almost every parent has to deal with a child that is picky in their eating habits, the only difference is varying degrees of fussiness. Some children are fussy and picky, and may get upset and pout when served with a meal that is not to their tastes, or has ingredients they do not like, but will eventually eat it after a little convincing and buttering up (metaphorically, of course). This kind of behaviour is still manageable, because the parents can derive satisfaction from having fed their child a wholesome meal, even if it takes a little more effort and time.

The problem arises when children are fussy to an extent where it can get exhausting for parents to carry out the simple and basic task of feeding their child. The child will throw a tantrum, outright refuse to eat what is served to them if they don’t like it, refuse to open their mouth to take in the food, will not chew the food and instead tuck it in their cheek for long periods of time hoping to wear your patience thin, spit out food or even start crying and thrashing around. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Unfortunately, for quite a few parents it may be true. It is very understandable that this sort of behaviour worries parents a lot. This concern runs deeper than just the fact that it makes mealtimes that much more inconvenient, but rather it is more alarming because when children throw such intense fits of upset at being served with food that is necessary for them and reject them, or choose to consume only a handful of things they will willingly eat, it means they are also rejecting their body of the things it needs as well. This can create a deficit in their nutritional intake, which can lead to a lot of problems. It may lead to children who are fussy to be underweight, which is a topic of regard on its own, but it could also stunt your child’s growth as the body will seek the nutrients necessary for healthy growth and will find none. 

Naturally, parents want to avoid their child, as fussy as they may be, to miss out on essentials for their growth. So, they try to employ every toll at their disposal to make sure their child has their nutrional needs taken care of, which is primarily absorbed by the food they eat.

Calcium-rich foods

  • Milk and milk products are important sources of energy, proteins, calcium and vitamins. A child must have about 1/2 litre of milk products per day.

  • A child below five years should be given milk and not skimmed milk.
It is very important to add calcium-rich food sinto your child’s diet. The mineral is exceptionally beneficial to make your child’s bones strong. Children are at an age where their body is still changing and growing, and calcium is a mineral that helps consolidate their bones, the main structure of their body. If their bones are strong, they will be too. Children are also active and are often running around or playing, which means there will always be chances of them accidentally hitting against something or falling down. Strong bones ensure they don’t face any serious injuries. Calcium is also incredibly important for the healthy development of the heart, other muscles and nerves. 

If your child creates a fuss in drinking milk, there are many strategies you can adopt to make milk more enjoyable to them. If they dislike warm milk, try to serve them cold milk. The taste of milk changes a lot when served cold, and if the problem they have with milk is its smell, cold milk almost has no smell unless purposely sniffed. Don’t serve it chilled though, that can make them sick. If they don’t like plain milk, there are many products on the market that not only help add flavour to the milk, but also enhance the goodness and benefits of milk by supplementing compounds that help your child’s body absorb everything milk has to offer, better. Another thing that may intrigue them is differents products that are fascinating to us, such as milk-flavoring straws that have beads of flavour that add the flavour to the milk as the child drinks milk through it, even if the milk in the glass is plain. There are also marshmallow flowers that are in the shape of a ball but open up, or “bloom” into a flower when dropped into a glass of warm milk or hot chocolate. Milkshakes and hot chocolates are also a good way to ensure milk consumption if your child does not like milk on its own.

Appetite-spoiling Foods

  • Heavy snacks between meals should be avoided as they spoil the child's appetite. It is better to offer him fruits and sandwiches instead of cakes and chocolates.

  • You should control your child's intake of sweets, biscuits, chocolates, cakes, colas, etc. because sugar is a major cause of tooth decay. It is always better to give juices instead of colas.

The best way to ensure that your children eat what is served to them, with as little groans and complain, or just fussing in general, is to work up their appetite. When you are hungry, even dishes you don’t necessarily love start to taste a lot better than you think of them in your head, the same applied to children. If they are hungry, they will eat something that is a little more healthy with a slight nudge. To ensure that they have a good appetite, you chould keep them away from snacks at least one and a half to two hours before a meal. Snacking is good, as long as it is not on pre-packaged and full of preservatives snacks, as your child will need food every 3-4 hours. You can serve them healthy snacks, and those that have little to not artificial/synthesized sugar. Artificial and Synthesized sugar store themselves in your child’s body in harmful ways. 
Avoid snacks, and substantial drinks too ( smoothies, milkshakes or even a plain glass of milk) as they may fill up your child’s stomach, and not leave enough room for a more wholesome and nutritious meal.

Tips for Fussy Eaters
  • If your child is a fussy eater, try to make their meals more attractive by giving them foods like milkshakes, pudding, ice-creams etc. 

Try to supplement a meal they may not necessarily like with something they do like. Do not withhold the thing they like until they have finished their meal as that might make them think the meal is a punishment or a task that they have to finish before they can claim their reward i.e the dish they like as they will only grow more averse to the dishes served to them during the meal. Give the food they like alogwith their meal.

  • If your child is a poor eater, invite some other children over during mealtimes who are of the same age and are good eaters.
Their friends will serve as role-models, as children often take social cues from their peers as to what is encouraged behaviour. It is also not sustainable to have friends of your children over every meal, instead you can try to have your meals with them and eat things that are healthy with great joy, so that they can learn from you.

  • If your child is fit and healthy and is growing and gaining weight as expected, do not fuss about his eating.

Fussing over their food excessively will only make them feel like mealtimes are a tedious affair where they have to deal with you badgering about eating things the way you want them to eat. Instead, let them eat what they like unless it is serious and they restrict their diet to only junk food with empty calories.

Avoid getting into a battle at mealtimes. Mealtimes should be enjoyable and you should talk about things other than food.
Instead of making mealtimes about whether or not your child is eating properly, putting the spotlight on them which may make them uncomfortable and associate that discomfort with food, make it a time for family bonding. That way they will associate food and meals as a way to connect with their family.

Tips for Overweight Children
  • If your child is overweight, reduce the use of cooking oil. Instead of frying, try grilling or baking the food.

  • If your child is putting on more weight than is recommended for their age, do not be alarmed or start putting restrictions on their diets as that may be a little drastic. They are still at a growing age and will be able to shed off the excess weight with a few adjustments in their lifestyle. A good idea would be to switch a few things. Use healthier alternatives to things they already like, and make restrictions on food items that contain empty calories. A cup of french fries, and apple slices amounting to same number of calories as the cup of french fries will not affect your child’s body the same way. While the apple will give your child’s body antioxidants, fibre and carbs, the french fries will only give carbs and fats in the same amount of calories.

Cooking Tips for Mothers
  • Use less of sugar, salt and refined flour (maida or all-purpose flour) preparations. These ingredients may appease your child’s tastes, but in large amounts can create health complications.

  • Unpolished rice or par-boiled rice is better than polished rice. Polishing rice introduces many more things to the rice than necessary, always choose organic food over processed.

  • Do not overcook vegetables, they lose their nutritive value. Especially when cooking vegetables in a shallow-fry or a stir-fry. Your children may insist on it, to get rid of the ‘fresh’ flavour of the vegetables or to make them more tender, but they need both - the nutrients, and to get into habit of chewing their food properly.

  • Do not cook fruits since the essential vitamin C is lost.

  • The skin of many fruits is rich in vitamins and minerals, so offer fresh fruits to the child with their skins. Many children may want you to peel fruits to they only enjoy the fleshy and sweet parts and not have to deal with the peels that are a little more tough, but they need the fibre. So encourage them to eat apples, pears, guavas with their peel intact.

  • Wherever possible, use jaggery instead of sugar, since it is very high in iron.

  • Avoid adding too much spice. Spices can cause discomfort in the digestion process, and if they start associating this discomfort with food, they will be less likely to eat the dish again.

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Sri.7 years ago
Try Nutreat kids which is specially designed for fussy eaters with rice, cereals & dry fruits which provides your kid the necessary nutrition. Moreover it is complete natural & homemade style, ready to cook. These products are available online.Hope Nutreat could help you.................Happy parenting.........:)
anonymous.9 years ago
maybe this receipe helps
Vishesh.9 years ago
Perfect tips to cultivate good healthy eating habits.
Suhana.13 years ago
really cool tips. keep up indiaparenting!
poonam.13 years ago
thanks for such a nice tips
give some recipes for childern
jyothi.13 years ago
honey is best for children
tamarasmum.13 years ago
you have tips for overweight children...what about the underweight child
suchitra.13 years ago
really good tips give
some more details.
zahirah.13 years ago
really good tips!=)especially for new moms...
madhu.13 years ago
thanks for the cool tips
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