Mealtime with young children can be difficult. You worry that your child isn't eating enough food, or the right kind. Or maybe you think your child is eating too much of one kind of food. Often you may feel that nothing seems to work. She won't let you feed her, and she refuses to eat what you give her.
The first thing you need to do is relax. Don't call her a "picky eater" or she may become one for life. There are many reasons why your child may not be eating the way you expect him to:
- Every child is different in how often, when and what she wants to eat. Some take a real dislike to certain types of foods - maybe it's the texture or the odour. Some prefer to eat only a couple of things. Fortunately, most children grow out of being this particular about food, and develop regular and healthy eating habits.
- Kids go through growth spurts. During these times, they eat a lot. At other times, they hardly seem hungry at all.
- Another factor in your child's eating habits can be his struggle to be independent, especially between ages one and three. Refusing to eat can be your child's way of asserting himself. Avoid a power struggle during mealtimes. Giving reasonable choices may help, such as, "Would you like milk or juice?"
The best thing you can do is make sure your child has lots of healthy foods to choose from so, when she does want to eat, at least she's getting the nutrients she needs.
If your child is losing weight, not maintaining his weight or overeating, consult your child's physician.