Parents whose kids are selective eaters are always under increasing pressure to look for ways to make their kids eat better. They go extra miles to feed their kids well-balanced meals, teaming it up with different varieties to give the food a sweet and nice taste. There may be instances whereby mothers put in extra effort to prepare meals and at the end of the day, the kids end up rejecting the food. Just because your baby spits out the food you put in extra effort to prepare does not mean it is a failed mission. Many times babies need to taste new flavours several times to become accustomed to them. If the food you prepare end up on the floor on the first day, give it a few days and try again. Your baby will likely recognize the flavour on the second or third or fourth day. They eventually realize it is just good food after all.
Never force your baby to eat something he/she is rejecting, but don’t give up on trying either.
Wait until your baby is ready for solids: Observe your baby, when they are ready for solids they will act interested in food any time you are eating. All babies are different and will be ready at different times. Introducing solids at six months is a good rule, but some babies get ready a bit later. Trust your baby’s signals.
Introduce one food at a time and only introduce a new food every few days: Babies have immature digestive systems, so they can even have adverse reactions to healthy foods. If you only introduce a new food every few days, you will be able to identify which food they are reacting to and which food they like most.
Also, eating solid foods is such a new and exotic experience, eating one food at a time will allow the baby to differentiate tastes and textures.
Offer the same food many times: It can take a baby 10-15 tries before they enjoy a food. Children often need repeated exposure to even taste a food, let alone eat it.
Trust and nurture your child’s ability to self-regulate: Never force food. Remove the words, “one more bite” from your mouth. If a baby does not seem ready for solids or a new food they will turn their head away or refuse to open their mouth. Do not pressure them to try it, just nonchalantly remove the food. Children’s appetite will vary depending on what they have already eaten that day or how active they have been. Trust that they know when they have had enough.
When spoon feeding, be patient and let the baby eat slowly: Babies usually take longer to eat than adults. So, if you are spoon feeding, take your time and be mindful of the baby’s pace.
Don’t offer praise for eating: This is harder than it sounds. Being a new parent makes us so fascinated and impressed with our little ones that we constantly want to tell them that they did a good job. However, we don’t want a child to learn to eat to receive an adult’s approval or praise, we want them to learn to eat because they are hungry.
Minimize snacking: Often when kids snack too much throughout the day, they are not really hungry at meal times. If you find that your child has trouble sitting down for a full meal, take a closer look at how often they eat throughout the day, and maybe even keep a food log.
Minimize distractions and focus on eating: We too often, eat on-the-go or while working on the computer, etc. Treat meal times as a special time with your little one. Limit background noise and other distractions (i.e. cell phones, etc.). Make feeding time a relaxing, intimate and stress-free experience! This will teach children to be present while eating and to enjoy their food. It will also foster a healthy relationship with food as they grow.
Keep opinions neutral: If a child is trying a new food, do not show a negative reaction or make comments. Babies take the opinions and reactions of their caregivers very seriously and internalize them quickly, even if they don’t show it. If the baby receives the message that a particular food is “gross”, they will be less likely to eat it. Give them a chance to decide for themselves.
Model healthy eating yourself: Children learn a lot from watching. If they see us enjoying healthy foods and displaying healthy habits, they will be more likely to do the same.
So, if your baby is giving you hard time eating, try these tips and in no time your baby will become an adventurous eater.
BY Mercy Kukah