You have just spent time and effort preparing a delicious, nutritious meal for your child and the child turns up their nose at your efforts.
It can be irritating, it can be frustrating, and it can be worrying because you don’t know what will happen if your child does not eat enough.
Your basic mothering instinct is to feed and if the food is not eaten, then there are bound to be problems.
Understand that children have phases
If for weeks on end, your child only wants one or another kind of food, this is not unusual. Children often go through phases which tend to run their own course and seem to die a natural death.
If the thing that your child enjoys having to the exclusion of all else is not unhealthy and is reasonably nutritious, then really you don’t need to worry because it is a phase, also known as ‘eating jags’ or ‘food jags’ that won’t last forever. [child nutrition]
Understand how much he or she needs
The concept of the plump or roly-poly child being the ‘healthy’ child is now definitely passé. A healthy child is one who is active and who is the appropriate weight for his age and body type. A fat child translates to an obese adult, so it is imperative to not try and ‘fatten up’ a child.
Let the child have what he or she is hungry for, children are often very accurate in that assessment. See if you are not trying to over feed the child. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to enforce the ‘clean plate policy’, because it may be that there is more on the plate than the child needs.
Don’t make it a battle of wills
The minute it becomes a battle of wills or an ego clash, it isn’t about food anymore. Then it becomes a power struggle, wherein the child tries to hold out for as long as he or she can and you request, cajole, bribe, threaten, shout and its all rapidly downhill from there on.
So when you see it becoming a power struggle, back off. Also force feeding is an absolute no-no. That instantly makes a martyr of the child who will feel he or she has reason for the tears of self pity or the tantrum that may follow.
Remember you are the adult and you are the one that needs to remain in charge. Also remember that skipping a meal or two is not going to make the child nutritionally deficient or cause him or her to develop a disorder and work from there.