How to develop good eating habits for toddlers

My daughter started walking in 11 th month and she could talk words like mamma, papa, food, water, bye-bye and what not. I was a proud parent to see my little one growing so fast. The sweet little words were the most precious thing to hear for me. But when it came to eating the food she was super picky and hesitated to eat any new food. I started giving solids to her at the age of 6 months and she loved eating the fruits puree, khichadi, banana or boiled  & mashed potato. The real problem was she wanted to eat only these mashed and pureed things when she was 18 months old.  And thus she didn’t gain much weight and her growth was very slow. I tried many times to introduce her to new foods and she refused to eat. If I tried to give her forcibly she choked and vomited. With the fear of her vomiting habit, I didn’t try new foods much. And it was going on like this with mashed, pureed food and juices. On her, 18-month check up the doctor said she is under weight. He asked her birth weight and said her growth is poor. Then we turned towards her eating habits – When we told about her pureed and mashed food habits, he warned us to stop everything. He said by 1 year of age, the child should start a normal diet same like adults and could eat with parents.

His suggestions:

My baby used to ask for milk only whenever I offered her food. And I gave her milk 4 times in a day which was not right.

Doctor asked to start a complete diet as like adults. I expressed my fear about my daughters chocking and vomiting whenever she eats new food. But the doctor suggested continuing giving new foods to develop taste, chewing habits and learn to eat.

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Though it was difficult for my baby initially to change from food puree, pastes to food pieces, she learned it slowly and gained weight too.

Here are  ways to develop good eating habits for your toddler

  1. Include all type of food in toddlers diet like grains, vegetables, fruits, dry fruits after one year of age. If your child refuses to eat then give it after some days, but keep on offering him/her again and again. Sometimes a child may develop an interest in offered food and he/she may start liking it. Offer one food at a time.
  1. Fruits: Initially give slices of fruits instead of big piece or cubes. Children will learn to chew, swallowing by practice. If they choke and vomit don’t get scared and continue giving slices after some interval .Give all fruits like banana, papaya, mango, apple, pear, watermelon.
  1. Vegetables: Give boiled vegetable sticks of carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins. And veggies like cucumber, tomato without boiling. Try giving stuffed vegetable parathas for meals.
    Slowly children pick up eating habits and they learn to eat a vegetable in their meals too. Children may take time so don’t lose patience.
  2. Do not give child mashed food, pureed, food ground using grinder after 1 year of age. As children make it a habit and they don’t want to learn to chew and swallow. Once children get their teeth they start chewing food.
  3. However, the mess child makes let her eat on her own. Offer food in small, attractive plates every time. Let the child pick her food from the plate and eat. This way child will learn complete process of eating, chewing, swallowing.
  1. Eat meals together: Take your meals along with your toddler and show her how to eat and chew food. Encourage her to do the same. Children pick up and learn by observation. Eat fruits, vegetables more often and with a lot of interest and child will follow you.
  1. Milk :If your toddler has a habit of drinking milk, cut down on milk intake. After 1 year of age, there is no need to give milk after some interval. Young babies are used to drinking milk and after growing up also they want to do the same. Instead, offer solid food to your toddlers. Toddlers need more solid food for getting complete nutrition. Replace milk by desserts made up of milk like kheer, halawa ,peda, ice creams

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