Feeding a picky eater?

Diet and healthy foods are pivotal in the growth and development of children. But this is easier said than done and mealtimes are usually a battle for most parents. Kath Megaw, a clinical paediatric dietitian has some valuable advice for parents struggling to feed kids who are picky eaters.

"Consistency is key. Some parents are far better at being consistent than others, but it’s no mystery why most parenting books will tell you it’s one of the most important things when it comes to discipline and children. And it applies to food, too. If you are consistent, whether it’s with your household rules, chores, or consequences for behaviours, the children know exactly what their limits are.

"If you stray from your rules and consequences, even once, the child doesn’t know when she will get away with something and when she won’t. These are general guidelines, of course, and there are always exceptions," she says.

However, one thing is clear, she adds, if you want your child to realise that you are the one who decides what and when he eats, you want him to know you trust him to be the one who decides how much or whether he eats at all, and you want him to know without a shadow of a doubt that you will not be his short-order cook anymore, you absolutely have to be consistent.

The following 5 dos and don'ts should be a part of every parent's routing when it comes to feeding:

1. Offer nutritious food.
2. Have at least one sit-down family meal a day.
3. Have planned, healthy snacks halfway between meals.
4. Offer the “one treat a day” rule to discourage eating dinner to get dessert.
5. Let your child determine how much and whether she eats at all.

1. Bribe, threaten, coax, plead, or disguise food.
2. Prepare special meals for your child if she doesn’t like what you’re having for dinner.
3. Offer snacks throughout the day, even if your child didn’t eat much during mealtime.
4. Engage in arguments or negotiations about food with your child.
5. Don’t give up.
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