What to do if your child takes all day to eat
There are many parents who spend their whole day feeding their child. Are you one of them?
Do you dread your days because all you do during the day is run after your child with a plate of food?
Have you stopped looking forward to parties and other outings because all you do there is run after your child with a plate of food?
Are you constantly on the lookout for someone who will take over this extremely difficult task of feeding your child – so that you can have a few minutes of stress free existence?
Then this article is for you.
Detailed article continues below the video
What should you do if you are feeding your child all day?
Notice what your child eats on her/his own
Does your child eat some things on her/his own? What are these things? Are they junk food items? Why does your child eat these things willingly and refuse to eat regular healthy food? No. This is not a selective eating disorder.
Understand – Children like to feel independent. They like food that they can eat on their own
What should you do – Give your child the chance to eat on her/his own. Use recipes that allow you to make food that is rich in nutrients but small in size. It is best to serve children all meals in the form of finger food that can be picked up by the child in one go and does not need to be chewed more than 5 times before swallowing.
Allow your child to decide how much she/he wants to eat
What is your real struggle? Do you struggle to make your child start eating or do you struggle to make your child finish eating? If your child starts eating and then stops after a few bites and you have to run after her/him to make her/him “finish” the food. Or if your struggle is begging your child to eat the “one more bite”. Then you are not respecting your child’s appetite.
Understand – Children are human beings just like me and you. At some meals they may be less hungry than at other meals.
What you should do – Offer very little food. Give your child the chance to ask for more food if she/he is hungry. When you force your child to finish you are setting the stage for an eternal power struggle. Also all through the day your child is experiencing your disapproval and disappointment in her/him because none of the meals was finished.
Use meal times to build self-esteem
Self-esteem is built when your child starts doing what was previously being done for her/him. When you continue to feed your child – you are compelling your child to remain dependent on you.
Understand – Human beings dislike being dependent. They start resenting the people whom they are compelled to depend upon
What to do – Make an arrangement where your child can sit by herself/himself and eat with you. Look proud and pleased every time your child successfully eats a bite of food. Do not talk about finishing the food.
Make meal times a time for sharing your day with your kid
Nutrition is important but food for the body cannot replace food for the soul. A child who is unhappy because her/his parents are constantly worried about the amount of eaten will be left with no appetite for food.
Understand – Food nourishes the body but meal times nourish the soul. Eating is a communal affair. Food and meal times must be shared. And when we share – we are not just sharing our food – we are also sharing our day and our lives. Eating alone – under stress – kills the appetite.
What to do – Sit and eat with your child. Talk about your day. Talk about the food – how it is grown – how it comes to your house – how you cook it before you serve it. Talk about the tastes and textures – talk about the ingredients that make the dish delicious and pleasing to the senses.
Do not extend mealtimes
For a child – eating is a boring task that takes time away from play. It is something that she/he would like to be done with in the least possible time.
Understand – When breakfast time extends until lunch time and lunch time extends until tea time – the child gets thoroughly bored and frustrated because there is no time left to play. Also with food coming down in small installments throughout the day – the digestive system never gets a chance to rest and get hungry again.
What to do – Give your child whole foods (unrefined foods) that are nutrient rich – so that even eating a small quantity delivers all the nutrients to your child’s body. Offer small meals frequently instead of giving your child 4 large meals. Avoid giving beverages like milk and juice just before meals so that your child is hungry for meals.
Do not take responsibility for your child’s meals
Every living being – no matter how small is, responsible for feeding herself/himself. As parents it is our responsibility to provide healthy nutritious food at the right times of the day to our children. We are however not responsible for making our children eat that food.
Understand – When you start taking responsibility for something – the responsibility becomes yours. Your child hands over her/his appetite, mood, health and well-being to you because you are willing to take over. As a result your child throws tantrums instead of asking for food and eating it willingly.
What to do – Be brave. Let go. Understand that you cannot control your child’s weight, height and bouts of illness by regulating the amount of food she/he consumes. Let your child recognize hunger. Let your child realize that nutritious food is the right way to tackle the discomfort that is caused by hunger. Let your child realize that when nutritious food is eaten at the right times – she/he has more energy to play
Do not show your child TV/ mobile while eating
Distracting and fooling your child into eating is the worst thing to do. Food must be received and enjoyed by all the sense organs before it enters the stomach. Only then does the mind acknowledge it and feel satiated and fulfilled. And only then is the food truly utilized by the body to keep the body healthy and strong.
Understand – When children eat food while their eyes and ears are busy watching a video, they have no clue what they are eating and they never enjoy eating. They do not see the color of the food, savor the aroma of the food and enjoy the texture of the food and so they never fall in love with eating and food. For them – food becomes something that they are tricked into eating. And since no one likes being tricked – they begin to hate food and eating.
What to do – Children want to be entertained. They want to participate in something interesting. And to them nothing is more interesting and thrilling than talking to their parents. Talk to your child and have fun while you eat.
Involve your child in making and serving meals
Every human every human being wants to be needed and your child is not different. Ask your child for help when you make and serve meals. By doing this you will raise his self-esteem and importance.
Understand – A child with high self-esteem will feel powerful not cornered when you ask her/him to eat. She/he will feel like an equal at the table – not a slave who needs to obey or face her/his parents anger. When your child is involved in the meals, every meal will turn into activity time and something to look forward to.
What to do – Ask your child to open the fridge and take out the vegetables or fruits that you are about to cook for him. Ask your child to wash that vegetable or fruit for you. Ask your child to help you lay the table. And ask your child to help you by washing his plate after she/he finishes eating. Children love to be involved in what you are doing, it makes them feel grownup and important.
If you are tired of feeding your child, help yourself by asking your child to help you. Give your child freedom. Allow your child independence. And enjoy meal times with your child