If your child is refusing to eat, getting upset at mealtimes, eating very small amounts or playing up at mealtimes this can be very upsetting and frustrating.
Most families go through this at some time but if it goes on for several weeks and affects your child’s growth and development you may need support to change your child’s eating behaviour.
The following tips can help:
Give three regular meals plus two or three small snacks between meals so your child does not become too tired or hungry to eat. Offer a wide variety of foods and whenever possible eat meals with your child.
Encourage your child to feed him/herself with a bit of encouragement from yourself when it is needed. This may be a bit messy at times but allow them to explore the food with their hands; this will allow them to become more familiar with food.
Give small portions of food so as not to over face your child. If they eat all that’s given you can always offer some more.
Avoid force feeding your child; this will only make the problem worse.
If you child refuses the food offered don’t offer them a completely different meal instead. Wait until the next mealtime or snack time before offering more food. Do however always offer a pudding, regardless of whether the savoury part of the meal has been eaten.
Don’t let your child drink too much before or during meals. Drinks soon fill up a small stomach.
Give children’s vitamin drops daily until five years old or until a varied diet is being eaten.
Offer rewards for good behaviour at meal times such as a trip to the park, reading a book, watching a video. Don’t however use food as a reward.
If mealtimes continue to be difficult and your child is not growing, losing weight or you are worried they are not developing normally, you should book an appointment for advice and support from your GP.
Baljit Sanghera is Healthy Eating lead for NHS Sheffield