Monday, August 6

Feeding the Finicky Eater

I am having a problem with my child Gabbie. She eats so little and too long. I have to bribe her just so she will eat the food we prepare for them. I don't know what's wrong, I've given her appetite stimulant and even a de-wormer meds (as prescribed by her pedia). We also cook her favorite dishes but she would just take a bite then leave them on her plate again. I surf the net and here's what I found in the ever-reliable Nestle Club site.

Every family seems to have one; the finicky eater who must be coaxed to eat; who dawdles over meals, pushing food around in the plate; who is always the last to leave the table; who makes mealtime a contest of wills.
How do you get such a child to eat?
  • First of all, there is no magic formula. Doctors may prescribe appetite stimulants and vitamins, but there is no guarantee that they will work. A few guidelines may help you cope with your finicky eater, though, and help you survive the daily battle at the dining table.

  • Build up his appetite. Avoid in–between meals and snacks. Cut down your child’s intake of junk food and softdrinks, which may make him feel too full for meals. Make sure he rests a few minutes before each meal because fatigue sometimes interferes with appetite. Don’t let him drink too much water before eating.
  • Make mealtimes relaxed and stress-free. Don’t jump on her case as soon as she sits. Avoid warnings like: “This time, I want you to finish everything on your plate.” Once she tenses up, her appetite goes. Try to ignore her antics for the first few days. It may be difficult at first, but the changed atmosphere at the table will help.
  • Serve food he likes. Take note of the dishes that he finishes each time you serve them, as well as those he won’t touch. As a general rule, children don’t go for highly spiced food and dishes with sauces. Serve food warm and cut up in bite-size pieces. An attractive table setting also helps. Ask him what he’d like for lunch, and if he says hotdogs, having hotdogs for lunch for a few days will not hurt.
  • Establish a regular routine for meals. Meals should be taken at the table, over conversation and company. The finicky eater won’t build up an appetite if, at mealtimes, she feels free to run around the house while the yaya chases after her with her food. Even if she won’t eat, make her sit at the table along with the rest of the family.
  • Avoid any emotional attachments to food. Mothers feel affronted when their children refuse to eat the meals they prepare with so much caring, telling themselves: “If they don’t like my food, they don’t like me.” That isn’t really the case, and much of the tension at mealtimes can be avoided if you could be more philosophical about the child who refuses to eat.
If, after a trip to the doctor, your child is pronounced fit and not suffering from any appetite-draining disease or nutritional deficiency, or is not dangerously underweight, then perhaps it’s time to relax and not feel your credentials for parenting threatened by your finicky eater.


karen said...

hi rowena! this is avery good piece. i feel you wrote this entry for me and my bea! =)

ScroochChronicles said...

My Gaby is the opposite of your Gabbie. Mine is so takaw. She loves to eat. Must have gotten it from me.

I started them early kasi. Everyone was saying to start at 6 months but we started at 4 months. Now, maraming pwede pero marami ding bawal. Soda is a definite no-no. Sweets, sometimes lang. Chichirya, no-no as much as possible.

rowena said...

Hi Karen, yes, I was thinking of you when I posted this article. Hope your Bea would eat a lot soon. Will be praying for her.

Hi Cookie, I started giving them solid foods at 4 months also. Gabbie used to be chubby before, maybe because of her anti-asthma meds. Now that she's schooling na, the lesser she eats. Yun nga lang, I let them eat sweets and chichirya. Kunsintidor na mommy.

lady cess said...

hay naku, that's my panganay.

one time there was this nutrition testing being offered for free in supermarkets, sponsored by anchor. dinala ko ang panganay ko doon, and no surprise, he was pronounced "undernourished." ang pili kasi sa pagkain, pero awa ng Diyos hindi sakitin.

anyway, the nutritionist (which we referred to as doctor) told him to eat more rice, meat, veggies and eggs, extra glasses of milk and no softdrinks.

nakakatuwa kasi, 3 months na siyang hindi umiinom ni patak ng softdrinks, and he explains that the doctor told him so. malakas na rin kumain, again sabi daw ni doc. thankfully, nagimprove ang weight. if only i can convince him to eat veggies though :)

Heart of Rachel said...

Hi Rowena. This is a good piece. I could relate. Yohan is not easy to feed. He is quite picky. He's always "tamad" to eat and would often say, "I'm full na" after just a few spoonfuls. But his weight is okay but I'd like him to gain some more weight.

Thanks for the good tips. I will consider them especially the cut down on softdrinks and junk food.

BTW, they say babies who were often fed with instant baby food (e.g. Gerber, etc.) become picky eaters. I wonder if that's true.

rowena said...

Hi Cess, nice to know na me improvement na rin with your kid's appetite for food. Naku, na-impress siguro sya ke doctor/nutritionist. Re the veggies, try mo to cut them into small nice shapes, then put some sugar or butter baka ganahan sila. Am lucky my kids eat veggies.

Hi Rach, same here, my kids scripted line- i'm full na then with matching act as if they're gonna throw up, he he. I think Yohan looks ok though, healthy naman syang tignan. My pedia said ok lang di mataba basta walang sakit. I don't know about the instant baby food, tried that one also before.

faith said...

Hi rowena,

Naku, that is my Faith. She used to have a great appetite then suddenly, she has to be coaxed and cajoled to eat just several spoonfuls. Natually, praning na praning ako and ang yaya. The nutrionist told me to observe her fave foods, so I did and we cook them for her. The minute that she sees it, she'll say, "ayaw." Di ko malaman if iiyak ako or what. But then my Ate tells me that the four of us sisters were finicky eaters, namana lang daw samin.

rowena said...

Hi Kim, hay hirap nyan especially when your kid is so hyper-active. Baka she wants you to eat with her (naglalambing). My kids eat a lot pag me kasabay din ibang kids. Nagpapakitang gilas. As I've suggested to Cess, try serving her nicely shaped veggies and fruits with little sugar sprinkled on top. Or tell the nanny to prepare mashed potatoes or boiled eggs na me smiley face. O di ba masayang kainan yan...:-)