Friday, 7 August 2020

CHILDHOOD FEEDING PROBLEMS





Feeding problems such as refusal to eat, disruptive meal time behavior and pickiness are common and part of the normal development of infants and toddlers. These feeding problems can lead to family stress with long-term negative consequences of children’s nutrition (under nutrition or over nutrition), behavior and growth. 
Early in life, children learn that refusal to eat is a powerful strategy that attracts the mother’s or caregiver’s attention and may lead to increased access to favorite fruits and snacks. Picky eating is usually just another method they use to express their strong desire for independence. Nagging, forcing, or bribing children to eat reinforces picky-eating behaviours because of the extra attention. Bribing children to eat a new food may achieve the parent’s immediate goal, but it often has negative results in the long run. In subsequent meals when the reward is removed, children eat less of the hurdle food. Bribing children to eat also teaches them that food is an appropriate reward.  

Feeding Guidelines

The nurturing of a young child involves more than nutrition, but also a safe, loving, secure environment in which the children may grow and develop.

  • Discourage unacceptable behaviour (such as standing at the table or throwing food). Be consistent and firm, not punitive.
  • Let young children explore and enjoy food. This may mean eating with fingers for a while. Learning to use a spoon will come in time. Children who are allowed to touch, mash, and smell their food while exploring it are more likely to accept it.
  • Meal presentation should be attractive: Color their plates with all kinds of great-tasting vegetables. Meals should include a variety of foods from each food group—in amounts suited to their appetites and needs.
  • Don’t force food on children. Rejecting new foods is normal, and acceptance is more likely as children become familiar with new foods through repeated opportunities to taste them.
  • Provide nutritious foods, and let children choose which ones, and how much, they will eat. Gradually, they will acquire a taste for different foods.
  • Limit sweets. Infants and young children have little room for empty calorie foods in their daily energy allowance. Do not use sweets as a reward for eating meals.
  • Don’t turn the dining table into a battleground. Make mealtimes enjoyable. Teach healthy food choices and eating habits in a pleasant environment. Mealtimes are not the time to fight, argue, or scold.


If a child fails to eat enough to support healthy growth and development, consult a registered dietitian-nutritionist.

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