There are some homes that become a warzone whenever food is brought to the table or even mentioned. Spoons fly left, right and centre and the food becomes a victim of mass destruction. Crazy tantrums and food in places that ideally don’t hold food become the norm as opposed to the exception. Toddlers can be quite a handful to feed! And especially after they learn the word ‘no’ and use it very liberally on you.
Whatever happens children have to eat and healthy meals at that. It doesn’t always have to be a fight though. Experts say that there could be a way around it! Thank heavens! It may however require a little flexibility on your part as the feeder since it entails taking time to understand your child first.
Children have different strengths and this applies to senses as well. There are those that respond more to touch (tactile), sound (auditory), sight (visual) and those that respond to taste and smell. Each of these senses may hold a little more weight with the different children and the kids will respond differently to food. It may be subtle or you could think that your child is just picky but look at what they are picky about. Is there a pattern?
Which sense is more dominant in your child?
Visual kids are all about presentation. The contents of the plate must look good for them to accept and enjoy their meal. You may need to cut the fruits and vegetables in a certain way or arrange them to make a certain shape, depending on what your child likes. Some may even refuse dented fruit or one with a spot. You can even let them serve themselves when everyone else is serving so that they serve what they can eat. That shifts any blame from you and allows them to take control of their plate.
Tactile children are all about touch but they may not appreciate the value or significance of sitting down to have a large meal. They like to eat when there is nothing else to do. Take advantage of this and get them involved in any ‘touching’. Give healthy finger foods when they are in the car going home from playschool or at any other time when they seem to have nothing else to do. Have them help in the kitchen and when the meal is finally ready they will be more inclined to eat. It’s all part of the fun and experience for them.
Crunchy apples and happy banter
Auditory children will of course respond to sounds so a crunchy apple and the sound of family sharing conversation during meals are a big deal for them. Routine is also very important to them and this applies to both timing and what food comes when. You can have fruit in the evening after school or even vegetables for dinner. You can choose one, like the fruit since it is less likely to affect the rest of the family’s food choices, and stick to it. They may refuse to eat if the foods don’t sound the same as before when they chew so vegetables that aren’t fresh may not cut it. Even playing music they like will improve how they eat.
The taste and smell kids have issues with these two properties. They will notice food that tastes different (including a fresh and stale banana) and that peach yoghurt she likes is more the brand since they produce the same flavour) as opposed to a general love for peach yoghurt. Meal times should be calm and friendly for these because their kind of sensitivity can have them eating too little or too much when they are upset.
Healthy eating is important and should be encouraged from an early age to foster a good relationship with food. This will bring proper mental alertness, good health and a healthy weight too. Make eating fun and engaging and not a boring chore and you will notice a difference in your child’s eating.