Published On: Tue, Jun 10th, 2014

Ten Easy Tips To Encourage Kids To Eat

Danielle Mantakoul

Ten easy tips to encourage kids to eat“He won’t eat, it drives me crazy and it doesn’t matter what I do! I have resorted to following him around the house and spoon feeding him at the table. He can sit there for ages and not eat a thing. He looks healthy but this does not ease my sense of worry”. (Rebecca Hornsby)

There is no greater feeling of satisfaction than to see your child eat well. For many mums across Australia each and every meal is a battle and one which they are losing miserably. Here I have compiled a list of simple tips you may not have considered which can be highly effective & most importantly doable.

  • Stop stressing! There is a good chance your begging and pleading your child to eat is actually more desirable than the eating itself. For some kids, not eating equates to attention as their parents fuss and dance around them at the table promising anything from money to treats if they “just take a bite”! You have taken the focus off the meal and put it on a reward. Take bargaining out of mealtimes.
  • Ensure your child has a small amount of what you KNOW they will eat every time on their plate. Sometimes it’s simply the act of starting to eat which is the biggest hurdle. My son would sit there and sit there and sit there, but once I added pear on the side of his plate he would eat that first, but then keep on eating. Success!
  • Go the small portions. Think about how much you believe a young child should eat at dinner. Now half that and it’s probably a far more realistic amount. Plates full of food can be too overwhelming and make the task seem unachievable. It’s a little like when you say to your kids “go and clean your room”. Have you seen that room, where in the world to start? For a young child if the task is too big it is easy to feel defeat even before you have started and this includes eating.
  • Do not get caught up in the habit of spoon feeding your child or following them around the house with food. They may protest once you stop, but kids who are hungry will eat if you spoon feed them or not. It may take them a short while to work out that all the demanding and protesting about being hand fed is falling on deaf ears, but your commitment to encouraging independence with feeding will pay off.
  • If you don’t want the kids eating McDonalds then don’t take them. If you don’t want them eating lollies or crisps then don’t have them, it really is that simple. If you’re complaining that your child eats too much junk then stop visiting the rubbish isle. Your kids will not stop eating if you rid your household of these foods or at the very least have a minimum of them, they will though learn to eat other foods that are available to them.
  • Pink bowls, Thomas the Tank cups, Dora forks. All these things can make for a more fun meal. If your child has actually chosen their tableware then this can increase their appetite due to an increased sense of ownership.
  • Many parents swear by the strategy of hiding those vegies any way you can. Sure go for it! If you can blend it, squish it, role it up or stuff it somewhere then great!
  • Give food more appealing names or ones that the child can relate to. In our house when we have meat it’s Daddy meat. Ham and Cheese rolls, Aidan buns, and vanilla yoghurt, Bella yoghurt. Broccoli are Minecraft trees and cheese is moon cake.
  • If you like your kids having juice then I recommend the best time for them to have it is at dinner. Juices are very nasty on teeth but if had with dinner it won’t be long till they brush their teeth before bed rather than if having it at lunch and sitting on their teeth all day. Water is king, and if you find it hard to get your kids drinking it, at the very least start to slowly water down their juice. A drink with dinner can be helpful in getting the food down but of course too much will result in a full tummy so small drinks at a time can be the answer.
  • If you are worried about your child and their eating habits especially if concerned about their weight or lack of energy, visit your family doctor who will be able to reassure you or point you in the direction of the right professionals.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2014

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