Who Wins The Battle? You or your Child?
“MY CHILD DOESN’T EAT PROPERLY”—WHAT TO DO ?
In your house who wins the battle? Is it you or your child? This is a problem that a lot of parents face and it seems to cause a great deal of anxiety.
The thing to remember is that your baby will always take enough food to satisfy her needs.
If she doesn’t want to eat, then she doesn’t need to. This means that on some days your child will hardly eat anything; there will be other days when she will eat a lot.
Give your child a variety of foods so that she has a balanced diet consisting of these food groups in their correct proportions:
1. Fats, oils and sugars
2. Dairy foods and Pulses
3. Carbohydrates: Bread, Cereal, Rice and pasta
4. Fruits and Vegetables
Think of it on a long term basis when you are considering if your child is eating well.
What has she eaten in the last week?
Not just today.
When you look at it from this perspective it won’t trouble you even if your baby eats only bread for two days.
If the required kinds of foods are made available to her then she will eat them.
Until the age of four or five your child will prefer to eat frequently throughout the day. Her stomach still can’t cope with three adult sized meals a day.
She is not ready to adopt an adult eating pattern. She may want to eat between three to fourteen times a day. But the typical range is five to seven times. What she eats is more important than how often she eats.
Avoid giving your child highly refined foods like biscuits, sweets, cakes and ice-cream which contain a lot of calories and very few nutrients. Fresh fruits and vegetables with chapattis make good, nutritious snacks.
Some children do give trouble when eating, but in many cases the real difficulty is when a parent expects the child to conform to an eating pattern that doesn’t suit her. If you approach the feeding problem with flexibility and sympathy, it usually disappears.
If there is some genuine food intolerance or allergy, consult your doctor. But do not isolate a food allergy yourself. Your child could suffer if you deprive her of a particular group of food.
Not eating is an early indication that your child may be unwell, so observe her carefully.
If she looks pale, and seems fretful and more clumsy than usual, check her temperature and speak to your doctor if you’re worried.
Occasionally your child may have eaten a lot of snacks or a drink of milk before her meal, and she won’t show her usual appetite.
As long as her snacks are nutritious, this is nothing to worry about. If she refuses to eat for no reasons that you can see, don’t let yourself be bothered by it. Your child will always eat as much food as she really needs, and if you insist on her eating, meal times may become a battle which you will always lose.
WHEN YOUR CHILD IS ILL:
Loss of appetite is one of the first signs of illness in a child, but this need not be a cause for concern if the illness is short. Your child must drink plenty of fluid, especially if she has been vomiting or had diarrhea. Most doctors recommend that drinks containing milk should be avoided if your child is suffering from gastro-enteritis.
There is no need for a special invalid diet, though it is sensible to avoid rich or heavy foods if your child has an upset stomach.