Thursday, August 12, 2010

Avoiding Food Fights

When you think of food fights, you might recall a raucous scene in the classic 1978 film, "Animal House." However when raising a toddler, "food fight" takes on a different meaning. What's a parent to do with a child who refuses to eat meat or only eats PB&J for a week?

It's common for toddlers to go through a "food jag" stage, eating the same thing at every meal, or refusing to eat anything that's red or orange. There are several reasons for this, so don't take it personally if your toddler has suddenly taken a dislike to your cooking.

First, it's completely normal for a child's appetite to vary from day to day. They usually eat only when hungry and stop when full. As long as they are growing well, they are probably getting the nutrients they need.

Second, some children are sensitive to food textures and tastes. They may not like the way something (such as hamburger or chicken) feels in their mouth. They may also dislike the way certains foods look, for example, spaghetti can look like worms to a toddler. As they grow, this sensitivity usually goes away and they learn to enjoy a wider variety of flavors, textures and colors.

Third, a food jag is one way that a toddler has some control over his or her world. He is asserting his independence. I suggest you relax and allow your toddler a little power in deciding what he or she will eat. Often, the less attention we give to frustrating behaviors, the faster our children move through such stages.

Be sure to offer nutritious foods suitable for a child's age, set regular meal and snack times, and serve foods that look appealing to young children. As a parent, you are responsible for deciding what foods are offered, and children are responsible for deciding whether to eat and how much to eat. What a liberating concept!

And when they choose not to eat, tell them, "That's okay; just sit and keep me company while I eat."

1 comment:

  1. OMG my child wont eat spaghetti either!


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