Parents often become concerned that their child is not eating enough and frustrated that everything they prepare is refused. As a parent you are responsible for what your child is offered to eat, when the food is offered (a 3-5 year old may need 5-6 small
meals a day) and making meal times pleasant. Your child is responsible for how much, or even whether, they eat.
The problem often develops into a power struggle between you and your child. Who will win, your child or you? Will you nag him into eating or will he wear you down with his refusals until you leave him alone? First, you have to totally back off nagging; You can not win this battle and he will always win. This battle must stop. Far too much stress is involved in his eating; you have to normalize this area of his life.
Following are some suggestions for parents to help them eat healthy, nutritious diet.
• Plan regular meal and snack times – children need structure, routines and limits.
• Make meals and snacks look appealing – use a range of colors, and shapes. Food should also be easy to chew and handle. Involve your child in choosing and preparing food.
• Encourage your child to eat with you and your family. Children learn by imitating the people around them.
• Do not force your child to eat. Respect that the child may have certain likes and dislikes and give them some choice in selecting food, e.g. let the child choose between two types of fruit or sandwich fillings.
• Be consistent with how you handle food refusal.
• Avoid substituting uneaten meals for other foods. “Treating” children with unhealthy food because you are worried they are not eating only makes them less likely to eat healthier foods. Only buy and offer healthy foods.
• Do not use food as a bribe for behavior.
• Set aside 20-30 minutes for meal times and 10-12 minutes for snacks.
Your child’s healthy height and weight should be a guide to their diet. If you are concerned about your child’s diet, talk to your doctor. You can also check if your child's current height and weight are normal or not on this page . Parents may also want to share their input in the members section.