Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Dealing With Fussy Eaters
Fussy eaters can be frustrating to parents, especially when you can't determine why your child is fussing over his bottle or his plate.
Fussy eating can be cause for concern or it might be perfectly normal - it is just one of the trials of parenthood to determine the cause of your child's eating problem.
Fussy Eaters During Infancy
The baby who fusses over a bottle has a legitimate reason a resounding majority of the time. The younger the baby is, the more likely there is truly a problem. Fussy eating at this stage might indicate:
- Your baby has a digestive disorder or condition such as acid reflux that makes eating painful.
- Your baby has a milk or soy allergy that causes discomfort or pain while eating or immediately after.
- Your baby prefers one feeding method. Many babies love the breast and balk at the bottle, while others prefer the bottle after it's been introduced and refuse to nurse.
- Your baby is teething. Once babies start to cut teeth around six months, they might start fussing on the bottle or breast because the sucking hurts their tender gums.
- Your baby has an ear infection. Sucking hurts the inner ear if it is already inflamed due to an ear infection. This is true of both nursing and bottle feeding.
- Your baby prefers another taste. There is a different flavor between formulas and between preparations styles. You can actually smell the difference in many. It might be that your baby likes the taste of formula made from powdered formula, but not the concentrated variety. This tends to happen later in infancy as your child becomes more independent.
If you have a fussy infant at feeding time, speak to your child's doctor to rule out the possibility of any problems.
Fussy Eaters as Toddlers
Once your child becomes a toddler, there are many other factors to consider. The biggest concern for many parents is when an otherwise voracious eater suddenly stops soon after his first birthday. It seems he's just picking at his food or barely eating when he used to eat much more at a meal. This is normal for most children and not a sign of picky eating.
Babies roughly triple their size between birth and a year or fifteen months. But from the first year through the third, they grow only a few inches and might only gain three to five pounds. This slowing of growth means their appetite and nutritional requirements slow as well. Your child isn't eating simply because he isn't hungry. Offer healthy foods at meals and during snacks and monitor how much he eats over a three day period. Compare this to the requirements for a toddler and you'll likely see that he's right on track.
Other times truly fussy eating does develop in toddlers. Toddlers are learning at such as rapid rate, and one of the most entertaining things they learn is how to agitate their parents. If he sees that a food means a lot to you, your toddler might refuse to eat it on principle. To avoid this don't make mealtime into a battle. Provide an array of healthy foods your child typically enjoys and be content that he is eating healthy foods, even if he's eating only a bit of one today and refusing it tomorrow.
Finally, toddlers seem to enjoy testing their limits. They relish in the realization that they have a choice as to what and how to eat. They might try out their new found freedom at the dinner table by refusing to eat anything but a certain meal or particular item. Play along as much as possible and work to include all necessary food items in the course of a day. Food strikes and "favorites" grow old after a time for children, so it is best to simply wait them out. If you're concerned about malnutrition in the week that you child will only eat bread and macaroni, feed him a multivitamin suitable for his age to help carry you through to the next week when he'll only drink orange juice and chocolate milk.