There are many reasons why a child may not be eating well but whatever the issue, you shouldn’t try to force a child to eat. Reasons why children refuse foods include:

Medical Reasons for not Eating Well

There are medical conditions that may make your child refuse food. Major causes include

  • Acid reflux
  • Teething and/or toothache
  • Sore throat
  • A virus
  • Constipation
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders
  • Food sensitivity such as celiac disease

Mechanics/Oral-Motor Skills

Signs that your child may not be chewing well are:

Gagging after the food is already in their mouth for a few seconds, spitting out half chewed food, and/or throwing up food that looks like it has hardly been chewed.

It might that they don’t know how to chew it or they are scared they are going to gag or throw up again on the food. Oral Motor Exercises may be helpful in such situations. Also, you may also need to help your child to transition into eating crunchy table foods.

Behavior and Routine Reasons for not Eating Well

These kinds of little phases are short lived and children typically outgrow them. For children who have a history of being picky or poor eaters, routine foods should be avoided and mealtime should be spiced up. Most kids don’t like eating the same type of foods over and over again. If your child refuses something, offer it again in a week or so. Your child might gobble it up and even ask for more – toddler interest in food can fluctuate wildly. Distractions such as smartphones, toys and TV should be avoided so children won’t lose interest in eating.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO (as parent)

  • Create a positive eating environment: Make sure the eating area is relaxed and that everyone has space to enjoy their meal. Make mealtimes moment a social family occasion. Sit together to eat with your child whenever you can.
  • Try putting a smaller portion in front of your kid. They can always ask for a second plate if need be.
  • Introduce new foods alongside foods that your child already knows and likes during mealtime.
  • Don’t schedule meals too close to bedtime or too soon before or after an activity
  • Involve your child in food preparation. Children have more fun preparing their own meal with their parents.
  • Though many young children like the same foods day after day, variety can add excitement to a meal. If you find yourself serving the same type of food over and over — maybe even because your child requested that food in the first place — it’s possible that changing things up can help.
  • Avoid non-mealtime snacks and drinks. It doesn’t take much for children’s stomach to become full. Also, it could make your child more interested in junks than healthy foods.
  • Understand your child’s eating pattern. While some children might not want dinner, they may eat plenty when it’s time for breakfast or lunch.
  • Don’t get discouraged offering new foods. It can take 10-15 tries for kids to accept and enjoy new foods.
  • Provide a time limit of about 25-30 minutes for a meal. If your child doesn’t eat the food, take it away and don’t provide an alternative snack.
  • Do not punish your child for refusing to try new foods. This may make them rebellious to tasting new foods/meals.
  • Avoid bribing your child with treats just so they’ll eat some healthy food.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO (together with your child)

  • Let your child lick and play with food, and expect them to be messy as they learn to eat.
  • Allow your child to help you choose new foods to try. Encourage them to help with planning, shopping, and food preparation. If they help prepare the meal, they might be more excited to eat.
  • If your child loses interest, or seems tired, cranky or unwell, take the food away.
  • Yelling at a child when they become upset or start crying, cancels any chance of them eating at all. So while you may want to encourage them to eat, don’t turn mealtime into a session of power tussle.

For more health tips, you can consult with a doctor today at eDokita. eDokita is a health technology organisation that provides health services to you at your own convenience. Download eDokita app today to consult a doctor.

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