Food for fussy children
Encourage a healthy weight
Your child is still young, but it’s not too early to help him or her achieve a healthy weight. Overweight children are likely to become overweight adults, with worsening health problems as they get older. In adults, obesity is linked to diabetes, an increased risk of heart disease, and certain cancers.
Parents can do a lot to ensure their children achieve and maintain the right weight for them. Respecting a preschool child’s ability to decide how much to eat and when is central to that effort. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that children are capable of regulating their own intake, and that adults can interfere with that innate ability.
When researchers served preschool children a double portion of macaroni cheese, the children took bigger bites and ate more. But when the researchers placed the double-sized portion in a serving bowl and let the children serve themselves, the children chose an appropriate amount of food for their age.
No more fuss
Preschool children can be fastidious eaters. They may insist on the same few foods for weeks on end, despite your attempts to introduce variety. You can’t stop children from being picky about food, but you can control the way you react to their demands for chicken nuggets every day.
Introduce new foods gradually and in small portions. Offer lots of praise when they eat a new food and ignore any negative responses. Be patient: some children need new foods to be offered many times before they will eat them.
Parents sometimes get confused about whether or not to give vitamin drops it's particularly important to give them to picky eaters. The NHS says children sometimes don’t get enough vitamin A and C and it’s difficult to get Vitamin D through food alone. It recommends: "All children from six months to five years old are given supplements containing vitamins A, C and D, in the form of vitamin drops."
Iron in particular is critical to a child’s brain development, immune system and energy level. The NHS recommends these good sources:
- fortified breakfast cereals
- dark green vegetables
- breads, beans, lentils and dhal
- dried fruit, such as apricots, figs and prunes
Ask your health visitor where to get vitamin drops. They are free if you qualify for the government’s Healthy Start scheme.