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Sanity and Time Saving Child Feeding Tips

Feb 29, 2008
1. Remember that you as a parent or caregiver decide what your child will eat. Your child will decide if he or she will eat it and how much. Once this is realized, a significant amount of pressure will be reduced.

2. Scheduled meal and snack times are necessary. Routine is extremely important. Do not let your child graze, as it will diminish his or her appetite at mealtime.

3. Do not be a short order cook! Always preparing something separate for your child will become expected. Remember that you are in charge of what your child eats.

4. Food jags are common in young children. Children will go through times where they want a specific food item on a daily basis for a week or two and then begin to refuse it. Be patient and in a few days or a couple of weeks, they will come back to it. The key is to remember that food jags are normal and making a big deal out of it will cause more problems. Instead, work with your child on trying new foods.

5. Repetition is the key. Children generally need to be offered a new food item 10 to 20 times before they will even try it. Tastes for specific food items develop over time.

6. Reward children with praise, activities, stickers, small toys, outings etc. rather than with food.

7. Eat together as a family as much as possible. Enjoy your time together.

8. Do not make eating a battle. Try not to nag, argue, bribe or coax. Generally speaking, it will cause more feeding issues in the end. Eating is to be pleasurable and seen as a positive experience and not as a negative experience. Positive mealtimes encourage eating as well as conversation and learning.

9. Do not pressure your child to clean his or her plate. Research indicates that children are born with good control of their eating. Children will eat when they are hungry and will stop when they are full. Children who are forced to eat more than what they want can lose their natural ability to control their food intake and hunger is no longer what makes them eat. This can also lead to eating issues and eating disorders in the future.

10. Average time to allow for snacks is 10-15 minutes and for meals 20-30 minutes. Your child should have been able to eat or drink what he or she wanted in this period. Remove any remaining food and your child from the table and wait until the next scheduled meal or snack time before offering food or drink again.

11. Avoid eliminating certain foods. An environment where certain food items are denied often backfires. Instead, encourage balance, moderation and variety.

12. Be a good role model. You cannot expect your child to want to drink milk if you are drinking a soft drink.

13. Watch portion sizes. Remember that when eating out, most child portions are much larger than they should be and really could be 2 to 3 servings for your child depending on their age and needs. Split meals between children or take home part of it for another meal or two.

14. Approximate serving size for children 1-3 years of age as a rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon per year of age. Additional amounts to be provided according to appetite.

15. Try foods in different ways such as cooked, raw, canned, fresh, frozen, sliced, chunked etc. You will never know which way your child prefers it and it could mean the difference of your child eating it or not.
About the Author
Teresa A. Tuchek is a consulting Registered Pediatric Dietitian. Teresa has a website discussing kids eating habits, nutrition requirements, typical growth patterns as well as answers to common kid nutrition questions. The website can be found at http://www.kids-nutrition-simplified.com.
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