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What You Should Do If Your Kid Refuses to Eat

Updated on May 26, 2017

“Perhaps it takes courage to raise children.....,” said John Steinbeck. But you, as a parent, may be discouraged or rather frustrated when your kid refuses to eat what you give him. You may be afraid that your child may not get the nutrition he requires. So, how should you handle this issue? Let us have a look.

Most of the children say a firm "no" to items such as greens, unattractive vegetables and fruits, etc. If you look at the items most of the kids are fond of, you will find that they like crunchy items or snacks. If your kid refuses to eat the healthy foods you give, you may justifiably be concerned about it. But no amount of cajoling, convincing or bribing may help. Keep in mind the following points because you have to act upon some of them.

Nutritional experts have given a name to this phase. They have named the phase as "food ruts" or "food jags." If your child chooses to eat only certain foods, it means he is in a food jag. You need not worry about this because it is quite normal. So, never waste your time on finding out the reasons for this because there may be no reasons also.

Why food jags?

1. One of the reasons may be that after a child completes his first year, his body may grow slower than how it has been growing earlier. This means your kid may be in need of a fewer calories a pound than what he used to need. That is the reason he is not very much hungry. During his first year, there might have been a growth spurt due to which he might have been extremely hungry. But now that his growth has slowed down, he may be having decreased appetite and hence, may not like to eat what you give.

2. The second reason may be your kid may be assertively making a statement that he is independent and can make choices. In other words, he is learning to be independent. So, his behavior of refusing to eat what you give and choosing only those items he wants may be natural.

How you, as a parent, can help?

1. The main point you must understand is that you, as a parent, cannot do much about your kid's food jag. You need not also worry if this will lead to nutritional deficiency. You must worry only if your kid keeps rejecting a whole food group for two weeks or longer.

2. Keep offering your child various types of food items including their favorite ones.

3. Be a role model. If your child observes that you are eating healthy foods, he will also gradually learn the habit. Remember the words of James Baldwin who said “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

4. Reduce the quantum of snacks you give during the snack-time before a regular meal. This will make your kid feel hungry. You can also make the child involve in physical activities or exercises during the hours that lead up to a regular meal.

5. Do not worry if your kid refuses to eat certain foods. Give him choices because there are chances he will choose one nutritional item or the other.

6. Alter his favorite foods slightly and suitably so they contain good nutrients.

Simply put, learn the art of moving with the flow. Remember that the food jag phase will not last for ever. Your child will soon learn the importance of eating healthy.

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