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How To Deal With Picky Eaters

Mrs Lim was at her wit's end. "My four-year old daughter was so picky about her food. The only way I could get her to eat was to spoonfeed her like a baby. Moreover, she would only take a few mouthfuls at each meal and as a result, she was underweight," says the 38-year old sales engineer.

Worried that her daughter, Beatrice, was not receiving sufficient nutrition and meeting her dietary requirements, the concerned mother of two sought medical advice. Beatrice has since been put on a meal supplement diet and has gained weight. Children who are picky eaters are at risk of nutritional deficiencies that can lead to growth faltering, thereby impairing their development and learning capabilities, as well as influencing their behavior and mood. Picky eating can also result in parental stress, says doctor.

Besides negatively affecting their physical, social, intellectual and academic development, picky eaters are also more susceptible to infection and more likely to have negative temperamental traits and be shy and anxious. According to doctor, intervention through nutritional supplements such as growing up milk may be as important as trying to increase food intake in many children.

It is normal for many children to occasionally display some pickiness with what they eat. However, it becomes a problem when their reluctance to eat common food or try new food is so severe that it interferes with daily routines and causes problems for the parent and child.

The reasons that children are picky eaters are complex and can be attributed to various issues. For instance, it can be a result of poor food quality, inappropriate eating behaviors of parents or caregivers, lack of food variety and unfavorable family-social climate. Experts advises parents not create mealtime battles that will usually make a picky eater pickier.

They should realise that toddlers in the one- to three-year range have small appetites and do not seem to need to eat as much. Moreover, their appetites can vary day to day and from meal to meal.

How To Handle Picky Eaters

Clinical research conducted with children aged three to five years concluded that a good nutritional supplement can promote catch-up growth in picky eaters. But while multi-vitamins and supplements may help, they do not solve the problem of picky eating. 

Never, Bribe, Nag, Coax, Punish

Avoid the battles! Hide your anxiety and concern about eating.

Keep Introducing New Foods Over Again

Don't avoid it just because they didn't like it once, they may change their mind. Don't dictate how much you thinly your child should eat. Let your children decide how much they will eat.

Offer Fruits As Dessert

Use it on its own as dessert or add it to ice cream, pudding or cake. Make your own fruit popsicles (have your child help you, it will have more value to them) out of fresh fruit, yogurt, juice or mills.

Avoid Frequent Snacking Habits

Avoid snacks in the car or while standing around and playing. Use a snack plan.


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