Many parents worry that their child has poor eating habits, isn’t eating enough or not eating properly. As many as 50 per cent of mothers with children aged between 1 and 10 believe that their children are eating poorly or have poor eating habits. However, 20 per cent of these tend to be misconceptions rather than facts.
Still, how do you tell if your child does, in fact, have poor eating habits? Here are five signs to watch out for
Signs of poor eating habits
* … Takes longer than 30 minutes to complete his meals.
* … Is underweight for his height and age.
* … Avoids meals, covers his mouth, sometimes pretends to vomit and is generally fussy during meals.
* … Is picky and chooses only to eat foods he is familiar with.
* … Eats less than his peers.
He could have poor eating habits for a variety of reasons. It could be due to three main areas ― the food, the child himself or because of their caregivers’ habits.
Causes of poor eating habits
It can be baffling when your child suddenly starts avoiding food, especially if he used to love mealtimes, but he could have poor eating habits for a variety of reasons. It could be due to three main areas ― the food, the child himself or because of their caregivers’ habits.
1. Food could be a cause of your child’s poor eating habits if foods given do not fit the child’s taste, or are not suitable for his stage of development.
2. Your child’s poor eating habits could also arise because he has:
* Disorders in the mouth.
* Great sensitivity to particular smells and tastes.
* A poor appetite or eats a lot less than his regular intake.
* Other physical or functional conditions.
3. The caregiver could also contribute to your child’s poor eating habits, so exercise care if you recognise any of these situations:
* The caregiver places the child in an inappropriate environment when feeding (e.g. with distractions such as the TV or toys).
* The caregiver’s approach to feeding is either too controlled or negligent (either extreme is bad).
* The caregiver lacks an understanding of nutrition, and could be giving your child inappropriate food for his development.
Solutions to poor eating habits
Depending on what causes your child’s poor eating habits, you can try various solutions to improve these habits. Whatever the cause, aim to break these bad eating behaviours, so that they form good eating habits that encourage your child to eat healthily for proper growth and development. Here are ways to manage your child’s poor eating habits:
3. Offer high calorie foods (1Kcal/1ml) to support your child’s growth.
4. Illnesses and diseases, especially diabetes, can cause poor appetite ― seek timely treatment for your child.
5. Provide nutritional support for your child, as directed by your doctor.
Show your child pictures of food to familiarise them with various foods. Also, get your child to help you prepare dishes.
6. Your child may be a picky eater, refusing certain foods because of their smell or shape. Show your child pictures of food to familiarise them with various foods. Also, get your child to help you prepare dishes.
7. Consider offering nutritional supplements if your child will not take certain foods.
9 tips for mums to help their kids eat better
Dietary habits can persist through to adulthood if not managed, so it is crucial to improve your child’s poor eating habits. To improve your mini-me’s eating habits, mums can try these strategies:
1. Make sure your child concentrates on eating without distractions (such as toys or the TV).
2. Offer your child age-appropriate food.
3. Encourage your child when he eats well.
4. Limit mealtimes to 30 minutes.
5. Avoid forcing your child to eat, or openly showing your frustration.
6. Introduce food patiently, starting with non-preferred items before favourites.
8. Parents should be good role models for their children.
9. Avoid letting them snack too much between meals.
The consequences of forced feeding
Exercise care when managing feeding difficulties or poor eating habits as this could give rise to mild to severe stress for both the caregiver and the child. It might even cause tension in the mother and child relationship.
More severe consequences include physical effects on the child such as slow weight gain and lowered immunity. In addition, psychological effects such as frustration and anxiety during mealtimes might lead to depression or additional disorders. Rather than trying to force-feed your child, focus instead on adopting solutions to encourage him to improve his eating habits.
This article is brought to you by Friso.
You may also like…