Many parents find themselves spending more time and emotional energy on their children’s eating habits than on any other aspect of behavior. They worry about health implications and fret over mealtime disturbances. Your first thought when your youngster refuses to eat or eats a little may be that he is sick.
Health problem can occur, of course, but if the change in the appetite happens around your child’s first birthday, it is probably the body’s way of announcing that the growth rate is slowing and that less fuel is needed.
Moreover, children are blessed with an extremely acute sense of taste which will lead them to reject certain things that you will like them to eat. Even though eating problems may not be a medical concern, they can still present quite a challenge. Many children discover early in life that there is no more effective means of capturing mummy’s attention.
If mealtimes are calamities, try pointing out at the problems and work one at a time. Begin with a realistic understanding of your child’s normal appetite of his age and weight, and adjust your standards and expectations accordingly.
Accept the fact that food intake is likely to decrease between the ages of one and two, because of slowed growth. His food preferences are likely to become stronger as he gets older, so you should provide him from the start with a diet that has a variety and the recommended nutritional balance.
Keep in mind, that your toddler’s stomach is best able to handle a limited amount of food at frequent intervals. Serve small portions, so that he has no difficulty finishing what is on the plate. Offer only if he asks. To encourage variety in his diet, you may wish to establish some rules about having to taste specific foods before he can have other foods.
While he should taste everything, do not force him to finish things he does not like. Teaching your youngster to sit through a meal can be a challenge all its own. Consider his energy level and estimate how long you can reasonably expect him to sit, and then adjust meal periods accordingly. In each of the contests, be friendly, non-combative and matter-of-fact.