December 2, 2022

Healthy About Liver

Masters of Health

EXCLUSIVE: Expert lists ways to deal with a toddler that denies home cooked meals

Does running behind your toddler with a bowl of food in hand sound familiar to you? Are you tired of getting no for an answer every time you ask your toddler for food? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. Asking for junk and denying home-cooked meals is a common habit among toddlers. And it can be challenging for first-time mothers to deal with the toddlers and make them eat healthy meals.

Dr Kritika Agarwal, Consultant-Paediatrics, Manipal Hospital, Sarjapur Road, Bengaluru, tells you that a baby might reject food multiple times before they finally agree to taste it.

“A baby can reject food 5 to 15 times before they finally accept it. So don’t give up and keep trying to feed your baby that food in different forms once every 10 days. Gradually, if you are consistent in your effort, they will start eating,” says Agarwal.

She adds that mothers should keep the plate colourful as different colours and shapes in the plate increase acceptance and trying of new foods.

“Apart from that, mothers must encourage self-eating. Start finger foods once your baby turns 8 months. And if they dislike a particular food, offer that food along with their favourite one and tell them that they should try eating, at least, a couple of bites of the food. This will help them develop a taste for it,” advises Agarwal.

Mothers need to be firm in their approach that healthy food is all that their child will get. “Even if they do not eat much, don’t create a fuss and remove the plate after half an hour. The next meal should be offered only after 2 or 3 hours. If your child is irritable due to hunger, offer them fruits or salad,” she tells you.

children eating fruit

Agarwal adds that mothers should not give juices, bakery items and high-calorie snacks in between as it kills the child’s appetite for the next meal. “Milk intake should be restricted to 500-600 ml a day for toddlers. A child who drinks more than 800ml milk will make a fuss when it comes to eating solids. Stop bottle feeding, if any, when the baby turns 18 months old,” suggests Agarwal.

Force-feeding, she says, should be avoided. “Mealtimes should be fixed. Decide when to give and what to give. Let your child decide how much they want to eat. Do not force feed. Never feed while showing screen. Healthy eating habits will not develop if the child eats while watching a screen,” she opines.

Apart from that, Agarwal says, mothers should focus on making mealtime a happy time and not something that the baby has to do out of formality.

“Toddlers are very active, and this is the age when independence develops, and they want to show their assertiveness. Their appetite varies, too. Give a balanced diet, and do not worry about the potion size. Don’t give sweets and chocolates as rewards as this is a bad practice. Most importantly, do not fret if your child is healthy and gaining weight properly. If you are worried still, discuss the issue with your paediatrician,” concludes Agarwal.

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