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The nutrition of our children is one of the topics that most concern us parents because it is directly related to the development and growth of children. A healthy and balanced diet is essential, but how do you get children to eat well, to eat everything and at the right time for their age?
To solve all these questions, the psychologist Silvia Alava offers us some practical advice so that children do not use food as a method to get our attention.
What can we parents do so that children eat everything?
Since they are small, from babies, we must introduce all kinds of foods into their diet and not wait for children to discover what fruit and vegetables are in the school dining room, they must have been eating these foods since they were little at home. As they grow, we should try to grind their meals less and try not to disguise the food.
How long should a child eat, depending on how old they are?
According to their age, we must establish a time limit for food for children. It is not about gobbling or eating super fast, but about telling them how long we are going to be with them and how long we are going to be eating. For example, a child of about 4 years old may take about 40 minutes to eat a first, second and dessert and we are interested in encouraging him to eat alone from the beginning.
If it is small, we chop the fillet, but the fact of piercing and taking it to the mouth has to be done alone. The child has to see that there is a time limit, a time in which he feels comfortable, consistent and adjusted to his age. In an appropriate and reasonable time for his age, he has to finish eating, and when that time is up, remove the plate from him.
What strategies should we establish to mark meal times?
It will depend a lot on the age of the child and the individual variables of each one. Here, we distinguish two cases: very anxious children, who swallow food and take little time, who must be taught to chew well, to eat slowly and in a more relaxed way.
And children who are very slow, stay forever and you have to be on top saying eat. In the first case, when children are especially anxious, we have to determine the meal time that each dish has to last.
What should we do when children are slow eating?
When children are slow, we have the opposite problem. We can use a watch with hands so that the child can see the time left. If it is especially slow it is better to put the time for dishes. With a soup or a starter, a 3-4 year old should not take more than 15 minutes.
We can use the same trick of the gomet so that the child is calculating, and warn him that when the needle gets there we will no longer be able to continue eating this and we have to remove the plate. Be careful with this technique of removing the plate! It cannot be used with children who are underweight.
How much food should children eat according to their age? Should the child be forced to eat everything on the plate?
Depending on the age of the child, the adult must manage the amount of food he is going to eat. We have to be clear that we must put a reasonable amount. There are many individual differences, it is not possible to say at this age this amount is eaten since there are children who are a little more greedy and others who are less. But what is not worth is forgiving the food. Every mother knows perfectly what her child eats and what does not, and it is better to put an adequate and reasonable amount, without getting into the game of forgiving pieces.
Can the retching and the habit of passing food from one place to another in a ball be the reflection of a psychological problem?
When you see a child who is gagging or balls with food, in a high percentage it is a wake-up call to their parents. We cannot say that he has a psychological problem, what he wants is extra attention from his parents and the time of the meal is very favorable to get it.
Is it good to camouflage vegetables to children or should they offer them without seasoning so that they get used to its flavor?
Regarding camouflaging the vegetables, two issues must be distinguished: the stew that can be accompanied as beans with ham, or disguising the food. The child has to know what beans taste like, and he has to know what vegetables are and what they are like, but that does not mean that they always have to be steamed without adding oil or ham.
Why does the green color of vegetables cause rejection in children?
The problem appears when we have been camouflaging the vegetables, so that it would not show and see the green color, and suddenly he sees it one day and does not want to eat it. If we normalize the intake of vegetables from a very young age and they see their color naturally, acceptance will be better and easier.
You can read more articles similar to Healthy eating habits for children, in the Infant Nutrition On-Site category.