“I don’t like it!”
As parents our patience has been tested to levels, only we know how we deal with it. Especially, the whining cries, throwing up of your little one as feeding them has always been a relentless battle for moms. Telling your kids to eat and what not to eat has always been a challenge for parents.
The smiles you get when they see confectionaries and the disgust you get when served with greens. Oh, and don’t forget those tantrums. I remember my mom saying; “you may not like it but your body does, so eat up.” Well, I realized she was right when I grew up, but not the young me, as I threw tantrums and cried the same as other kids when I saw veggies on my plate. Next, you are grounded with questions, why my child is not eating? Does my child have some problem? What if this becomes a habit? And so on.
Fundamentally, we all have our food preferences and our sensitivity to taste has developed over a period of time, looking at our kids we should tell ourselves, “we all have been there, and done the same.” Before you get to your own conclusions, let’s understand the purpose for such behavior and food preferences in children.
It begins in the womb
“Knock! Knock! I am here.” The early signs of pregnancy begins for some women with a change of palate, with cravings for the most outrageous food like, coal, chalk etc. to extremes, like too sweet or spicy. There is also a heightened sensitivity to smells, some of which women tend to dislike during pregnancy. These are vital signs that shouldn’t be ignored, as your body is giving you signals on what nutrients it needs for the growing fetus. Some women develop the shift in palate during later stages of pregnancy.
Understanding flavors starts in the uterus and during early embryonic stage, as the mother’s breast milk and amniotic fluid contains components which are generated from the mother’s diet. After birth, babies tend to show features for certain taste favorites.
Children are more sensitive to sour and bitter palates, paralleled to adults. They prefer foods that are more towards the sweeter, salty or sour side.
Mother’s Milk or Formula Fed Milk
Studies suggest that there is a drastic difference in taste preferences when it comes to breast milk and formula fed milk. Breast milk falls more on the sweeter side and gives infants different sensory sensations. Whereas, in formula fed milk the taste is maintained and set unless, the infant is introduced to different types of formula feeds.
For parents out there who are wondering why their kids do not eat well or make a scene while eating, this is one of the causes. It’s nothing serious, but a phase your child is going through, and need your help. During the early stages of child development there is also a transition in the taste preferences of a child.
Food Neophobia is defined as a fear of trying new food substances or foods that are unversed to a child. Children from 2-5 years of age show signs of food neophobia due to the change in diet. This can be overcome by introducing the same diet few number of times or by introducing the same food with one of the child’s favorite foods. This phase diminishes at later years and is not likely seen in their teen and adult years.
How do you introduce novel foods to your little star?
Firstly, coercing your child to eat by forcefully pushing the food down their throats, is only going to make the experience of eating worse. Later your child might not show interest in eating those foods that you chose to push down his/her throat. Therefore, Pressurizing is a Big No!
Introduce between meals: Before the main meals, start by introducing veggies or fruits between meals. Example; A small slice of apple, a strip of carrot, which they can munch on to. You can also offer them a piece of snack they like after they finish eating. When you do this the main meal can be kept light, so even if your child refuses to finish, the fact that he/ she managed to consume few veggies and fruits through the day is enough for daily nutrition and growth.
Make it fun: Put on your child’s favorite TV show, or play his favorite music and make meals fun for kids, this way they eat better and the distraction helps in the consumption of distaste foods better.
Spark their Imagination: Children tend to have a wild imagination, which is fun, intuitive and adventurous. Their imagination is at its peak as their brain is developing drastically. Be creative and introduce new foods by storytelling, sing along songs and so on. We mommies need to put extra efforts if we want our kids to eat well.
Repeat and Pair: To overcome food neophobia and to get your young one to adjust to novel food articles, keep repeating their disliked foods three to four times a week and also pairing the food with something your child likes. This can also help your child to adapt to various flavors and get them to experience different palates.
I hope this post helps you all to handle your child’s eating habits better and I would like to share this quote to all parents and aspiring parents out there.
“Yet every moment with your child is beautiful.”
pic courtsey: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com