ABC by Paley – FOOD

During the first year of life, or even two, the toddler eats with appetite whatever he gets to eat. The parents are happy, the grandparents are clapping, and the little one happily eats the next portions. And then, suddenly, the day comes when the toddler's appetite decreases and he does not open his mouth so eagerly anymore.

If the pediatrician, after seeing and examining your baby, concludes that your baby is developing healthily and the test results are normal, it most likely means that your baby is experiencing something that often happens at this age.

Between the first birthday and the age of five, the appetite may decrease and the child’s preferences regarding their favorite food may change. If, despite the pediatrician’s assurances, parents are still worried about the amount of food eaten, it is worth writing down everything and how much the child has eaten for a few days. These notes will be useful if parents decide to consult a nutritionist about nutrition. After examining the notes, it may turn out that the parents will calm down when they see that the child is really eating “something” and in sufficient amount. It happens that, out of concern for the proper development of a child, guardians have greater expectations of how much the child is to eat instead of how much the child eats. Healthy children, however, have a remarkable ability to maintain energy balance.

Parents who feel that their child is eating too little or gaining weight too slowly are more likely to overreact to changes in their child’s appetite. This leads to disappointment, anxiety, and ultimately forcing the child to eat, and a nervous atmosphere at the table. Parents’ efforts to make their children’s diet more varied can backfire. Caregivers can pressure children to eat without appreciating the physiological decline in appetite.

If children are forced to eat, their natural need for independence may come to the fore and the little ones will boycott eating a meal even more. Even a little man wants to decide for himself, and the easiest way for him to do this is by controlling how much he eats. In such cases, it is worth encouraging the child to eat independently and choose food products. An important rule is that the parent decides what will appear on the table (of course, it is best if these are healthy and wholesome products), while the child decides how much and in what order he will eat.

Healthy eating plays a particularly important role in the recovery period after surgery. It helps you gain strength and replenish the necessary minerals. A balanced diet is extremely important, but it is worth remembering that your child may not havethe appetite immediately after surgery. Then, even more than usual, you need to create a good atmosphere and be patient. The appetite will eventually come back, and pressuring your baby to eat it won’t speed it up.

Common meals are a unique opportunity to spend time in a pleasant atmosphere and strengthen family ties. This time can become a unique and upbuilding experience and provide food not only for the body but also for the soul. Feasting together, sharing your experiences, talking about the passing day are beneficial for the whole family. Children who eat meals with their parents, especially when the atmosphere at the table is cordial, enjoy better mental health and cope with the challenges of everyday life better.

Food is necessary for a person to survive. It is supposed to be associated with something necessary, not unpleasant. Therefore, strategies such as threatening, shouting, embarrassing, coercing, or bribing with sweets will reduce rather than increase the amount of food eaten. A child who fears a punishment for missing a meal or expects a reward for eating something healthy is unlikely to develop good eating habits.

If we make our children eat the entire dinner first to get dessert, we signal them that treats are special foods that must first be earned. A healthy meal also ceases to be something to satisfy hunger and strengthen the body, and becomes an unpleasant necessity that must be performed in order to get to the coveted dessert. In this way, we sabotage our best intentions to reinforce healthy habits in children. Conversely, when sweets or other snacks are given as a reward or consolation, children begin to associate food with emotions, and this can lead to chewing on sorrows or stress in the future. And yet, we want the child to build a good relationship with us, not with chocolate. Food rewards teach children to expect food when they’ve done something right. This strategy lets them know that unhealthy food is more desirable than wholesome one, because nobody gets carrots or tomatoes for their merits.

Additionally, the reward of food makes the child ignore the signals coming from his body. The vision of a chocolate bar, ice cream or crisps is so tempting that your toddler will eat these snacks even though he or she is not hungry at all. And snacks between meals can further aggravate the difficulty of eating wholesome food. It is also worth looking at how much exercise the child does. When encouraging them to eat larger portions, it is worth remembering whether they had enough exercise that day, preferably in the fresh air.



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Fernandez C., McCaffery H., Miller A.L., Kaciroti N., Lumeng J.C. Pesch M.H. (2020), Trajectories of Picky Eating in Low-Income US Children, Pediatrics

Steinbekk S., Bonneville-Roussy A., Fildes A., Llewellyn C.H., Wichstron L. (2017), Child and parent predictors of picky eating from preschool to school age, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity

Harbec M.-J., Pagani L.S. (2017), Associations Between Early Family Meal Environment Quality and Later Well-Being in School-Age Children, Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics