Ensuring Right Nutrition For Fussy Eater Kids #GrowRight
Fussy eating is one of the most common food related issues that many parents of toddlers face. One day the child’s favorite food in the world is dal-rice, the next day he may not even touch the same. For weeks together, he may just eat one or two preferred food items and nothing else. While such likes/dislikes for particular foods is normal in kids and is a part of their development process, as a parent it gets really hard to handle such mealtime tantrums.
Being a mom of a fussy eater myself, I sometimes find it super frustrating when my child outrightly rejects the food I give him. As much I try to keep my calm, it worries me about his limited diet and lack of adequate nutrition. Every time I visit the pediatrician, my first few questions are always related to his weight. Does he look pale? Is his weight on track? And I guess, there are many more moms out there like me who have similar concerns for their kids.
Recently, I attended a bloggers meet #GrowRight hosted by Abbott India that aimed to address these common concerns of moms with respect to child nutrition. The meet was facilitated by a group of health experts that highlighted how 9 out of 10 moms are stressed about their child’s growth and development and are drowning in the plethora of information on the internet and various other sources.
Talking about the holistic development of kids, they mentioned that ‘right growth’ is not just about ‘right nutrition’ but also about right play, right nurture and the overall impact of the environment.
The eminent panel that comprised of renowned Pediatrician – Dr. Samir Dalwai, Nutritionist – Dr. Dharini Krishnan, Child Specialist – Dr. Mukesh Sanklecha and gorgeous celebrity and an experienced mom – Lara Dutta also shared some very practical and relevant insights on how we can handle the most tricky toddler issues and ensure that they #GrowRight.
Sharing some useful tips I learnt at the event that can help me with my kid who is a fussy eater.
1 Make Food Fun- A child is more likely to eat the food that’s colorful and looks attractive. Dr. Dharini mentioned that one of the ways we can make food fun is by inventing different mealtime games based on colours or shapes. Get some cutters, cut the regular fruits in fun shapes, make a rainbow out of brightly colored veggies and see how even the most regular food becomes exciting for kids.
2. Avoid Force Feeding Kids – Each kid has a different appetite. While parents can decide what the child should eat, let the child decide how to eat and how much to eat. Force feeding doesn’t really help. Rather it can create more aversion in the kid.
3. Cook with Kids – Often, kids are much more willing to try a food if they are involved in the entire procuring and cooking part. Sharing her personal experience, Lara Dutta mentioned how she takes her kid to a vegetable market and lets her choose the veggies she wants to eat. At home she even involves her in the entire cooking process. This way the child not just enjoys the food but also learns to take ownership of her meals.
4. Avoid Screen Time – Screen time is addictive for kids. Several studies connect delayed development in kids with extended exposure to screens. During the panel discussion, Dr. Samir highlighted – once the child is over the age of two, screen time should be limited to maximum one hour. And absolutely no screen time during meals as that only leads to distracted eating.
5. Encourage Outdoor Play – It is important that kids get at least three hours of play every day, of which one hour should include physical activity and exercise. This not just improves the child’s appetite helping him #GrowRight but also plays a crucial role in bone growth and improving the immune system.
6. Practice What You Preach – Toddlers do what they see. One of the effective ways of ensuring that kids eat right is to follow the same as a parent. Practice and display healthy eating habits and eat together as a family.
6. Repeat Offerings – It’s ok for the child to reject a particular food item. If he didn’t eat something at dinner, do not force him. At the same time, do not offer a snack of popcorn or cookies as an alternative. Save the food that he didn’t eat and offer him again later in night. That way the child will get an idea that he can’t skip the meal and go for other delicious snacks.
8. Keep Calm– Remember that fussy stages are normal. Do not go overboard scolding or punishing the child for not finishing his meals. Dr. Mukesh mentioned during the event that a child keenly observes his parents’ reactions to various situations. It’s good to establish certain rules but instead of anger try doing that with positive interactions.
9. Do Not Present Food As A Reward – Praise and reward the child for desirable behaviour, say when he finishes his meal, but do not present another food, especially sweets, as a reward. That will only give the child an impression that sweets are better than other foods and will affect his ability to learn about healthy eating. Instead, reward the child with kind words and some quality family time.
10. Stress Less And Do Not Compare Your Kid With Others – During the discussion, Lara Dutta made a very pertinent point that struck a chord – ‘Your child is not your Report Card’. Do not consider your kid as a scorecard for parenting skills. Each child is unique. Do not compare with other kids and respect the pace at which your toddler is growing.
During the event, it was also highlighted how important it is for parents to rely on credible sources and established standards of growth measurements. With a plethora of information available just on finger tips, it’s difficult for parents to assess which guidelines to refer. The esteemed panel unveiled the #GrowRight tips launched by Abbott’s Pediasure which are a comprehensive guide for mothers, covering everything about child nutrition; physical, cognitive and emotional development. Designed by a guild of health experts, these tips are a valuable and credible resource for mothers like me to understand all about right growth and nutrition; and adopt a constructive and holistic approach to parenting.
Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Abbott India. However, all the views and opinions expressed here are my own.