If you have a 4 or 5 year old, you are
familiar with picky eating. Many children at this age do not want to conform
to the family menus and/or scheduled meal times. We, as parents, want
to see our young ones eating healthy, nutritious foods. As busy parents,
we do not want to be running a cafeteria with on demand service. Then
there are the days when your preschooler just can not get enough to eat.
Here are some reasons for this mealtime chaos.
4 & 5 year olds become engrossed in whatever they are doing.
Many will not even stop having fun or a project to go to the bathroom
let alone eat.
They are becoming more independent and want some control over what
they eat or when.
They may have fallen in love with junk foods and are filling up
Children in this age group are energy powerhouses. Sitting still,
even for 20-30 minutes may feel like an eternity at mealtime.
The extremes: they are just not hungry or are in the middle of
a growth spurt and cannot get enough to eat.
So, what can parents do to maintain some sanity?
Children will never starve themselves. Allow your child to keep
his natural instinct for hunger. Do not force a child to eat if
he is not hungry. You can however insist that the child sit with
the family at the table during mealtime.
Tell your child that you are not a cafeteria service. Demonstrate
this by not providing meals at all times of the day and night.
Limit the amounts and types of snacks between meals. If your child
will not eat healthy foods at mealtimes, provide healthy snacks
between meals. Try to limit the amount of snacking so your child
is hungrier at mealtime.
Many children will be picky about certain foods for short periods
of time. Continue to offer different foods. You never know when
her tastes will change.
If peanut butter and jelly is the only thing he will eat for lunch,
give it to him.
Have your child "try" a new food at least once a week.
One bite is all that is required as a "try". If she doesn't
like it, do not force her to eat it. But she should at least try
Set a good example. Prepare and eat nutritious foods at regularly
scheduled times. It is by your example that your child will have
a lifetime of good eating habits.
Remember that this picky eating is only temporary. This will pass. Not
focusing on what foods and how much food may help prevent obesity later
in life. Children need to listen to their natural hunger instinct and
not be forced.
What are your preschoolers' eating habits? Please share them with us by writing