It’s far from a common problem but that doesn’t make it any less distressing. When your child goes on food strikes, it can create a very instinctual panic. Your child doesn’t quite grasp how worried their fussy eating makes you, of course, so it’s up to you to come up with the solution. Here are three problems that might be contributing to the disastrous dinner times before they become part of your everyday routine.
Set the mood
Sometimes, it’s all down to the fact that they don’t feel like they’re in the right mood for eating. Sugar can interfere with all the regular food cravings for instance, so it’s a good idea not only to limit it but to avoid it entirely before their last meal of the day, it not entirely. Children are much more likely to go along with what their parents are doing, too. By sitting down to focus on your own meal, you can make dinner a fun family experience rather than a daily struggle with them. Try and approach the situation with a calm assurance, rather than constantly fussing over them and trying to coax or even bribe them into eating. When they know that acting out pays off, they’re only more likely to repeat the problematic behavior.
Get them in position
Where they are and how they’re sitting can make a big difference in whether they’re going to eat, too. Though it might not seem like it, children like a little structure. If you’re feeding them just about anywhere, they might be more prone to get distracted and to focus elsewhere. It won’t feel like “dinnertime” if they’re having dinner where they also watch their favorite cartoons. Have them out at the table without toys and without distraction. Getting the right high chair is important, too. If they’re not being supported and they have an uncomfortable posture, then the whole experience can become stressful for them. Just make sure you get one that’s adjustable, as your kid’s going to be growing in that chair and you will have to get more replacements than you expect if you don’t.
Switch it up
As adults, we suffer meal fatigue the same time. You can only eat mac ‘n’ cheese for so long before even looking at it is enough to put you in a grim mood. Your child feels the same, even if they don’t express it. Children naturally veer towards a balanced diet with different tastes in it, so long as sugar isn’t taking over their appetite. Don’t just keep preparing the same meal for them every day and expect them to like. When they try new things, don’t make a fuss trying to get them to try it. Leave them to it, if you can, see what they eat and what they avoid. By relying on similar tastes and ingredients, you can build up a stock of favorites you keep going back to rather than just the same meal time and time again.
Of course, it’s important to be aware of other reasons your child might not be eating. If they’re feeling ill or they’re teething, they certainly won’t feel in a fit state to eat but they might not quite be able to communicate that. For most other causes the tips above should help you get their diet back on track.