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  1. #1

    Eating Habits of a 4 year old

    Hello everyone,

    I have a question, my daughter is 4 years old and doesn't eat well. She is not willing to have egg or milk. She doesnt like meat and says she cannot have vegetables also. So i am left with bread and chese and sometimes she agree to pancakes. What shall i do?

    I know a lot of mums have this problem and kids fuss a lot, but i dont want to run after her and i do try that between meals i dont give her anything. Her breakfast, if for example has been pancakes then i wait for a good 2 hours before she says she is hungry and thats when i give her fruits. In lunch she makes a big fuss and doesnt eat it unless i fry her some ready to eat meals. I want to give her something home cooked not factory packed. Anyway its the same situation for dinner also.

    She prefers to have milk for dinner but usually makes an excuse to have very little.
    Help me out please.
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Hi Kate,

    I'm sorry you are struggling with your daughter's eating at the moment. As you know - lots of children go through a stage of being fussy about what they eat. Approximately how long has it been going on with your daughter?

    At 4 years old, it's important that children are having 3 portions of dairy a day (primarily due to the benefits of Calcium). This doesn't have to be from milk if she is not always keen on this. She could have cheese or yoghurt.

    Does she eat her meals with you or the rest of the family? The health professional Gill Rapley advises that eating meals as a family helps children to learn how to enjoy food and they copy eating skills from their family members.

    Perhaps your daughter would like to drink smoothies in order to get her fruit and veg requirements for the day? These tend to be very popular with kids! Kate (another member of this forum) has an excellent recipe for Green Smoothies here.

    At this age, it's best if children are eating 3 meals a day as well as at least 2 snacks. You may find that one way to encourage your daughter to eat a wider variety of food is by offering it as small snacks regularly throughout the day. The snacks could be: raisins, berries, toast with pear and apple spread, a yoghurt, bread-sticks with humous.....the list goes on and you can be as creative as you like!

    Other tips I have learnt from other mums for fussy eaters is that it can take time and it works best if you give your child lots of praise whenever they make any progress.

    Best wishes,

    LJ

  3. #3
    Of my four children, one of them constantly gives me grief regarding the type of foods she eats at home. I am a strong believer in providing healthy, nutritious meals for my family. I try setting an example by eating the same healthy foods at the table with my little one. I also do not make special orders for a child. If my husband and I are having liver and onions or salad for dinner, then everyone is. My children were raised this way and so, it is what they expect. There are no special orders, no substitutions. I try to make meals that are pleasing to everyone, but the way I avoid feeding into junk food cravings is by simply not permitting it.

    Children usually realize rather quickly that they will need to try new things and eat what is on their plate. For my oldest child, with whom we have always had issues regarding food, I make no exceptions. Most nights she eats a reasonable amount of food. To accommodate the nights she picks at her food, I make sure she has an age-appropriate multivitamin.

  4. #4
    Lots of really good suggestions here from LJ and Mom2Many.

    We do something along the lines of what Mom2Many does. We don't make any exceptions - the children eat what we eat, and always have. If they won't eat what is on their plate, we just let them know that they won't have anything else to eat until they eat it. Often times this means they stop eating at that meal, and we put the plate of food in the refrigerator. If it's dinner they don't want, then that's what they are served for breakfast. If it's lunch they don't want, then they are served it at dinner, and if they won't eat it at dinner, they are served it at breakfast the next morning.

    Truly, they always end up eating it because I've never given in. They have to sit with us at the table through the entire meal and we make a big deal about how yummy the food is. Lots of "mmmmms" and "yummmmmmms". They can have water if they get hungry or thirsty (no milk until they've eaten the food they rejected). Children can live on water for a few days without any ill effects, but I've never had to go more than 3 meals before they got hungry enough to eat what I served.

    My guess is that if you're feeding her lots of simple carbs like crackers, cookies, pancakes, breads and muffins, that you area actually creating a craving within her body for simple carbohydrates and sugar. Once you remove those items she should naturally start to feel a desire for high quality protein like eggs, chicken, beef, fish and fresh vegetables. I would eliminate fruit juice too because this is converted to simple sugar in the body very quickly, just like the bread is. You could start by offering one piece of fruit each day, but lots of vegetables. You may find that she starts to take to the starchier, sweeter vegetables like corn, peas and carrots before she takes to zucchini, broccoli or cabbage. Make sure that the vegetables are either fresh or slighltly steamed. Don't cook them until they are dark in color or mushy. She is 4 years old and she can eat crunchy foods.

    Once you see that she's starting to eat the protein, fruits and vegetables, then add in a little bit of bread or rice, but not at every meal. She will probably tend to crave the breads, crackers, rice, etc. so always be aware of this tendency.

    And if you want to try a higher protein pancake recipe, there are pancake recipes that call for cottage cheese that you blend in with your mix. But I'd stay away from pancakes for now and offer her some other foods for the time being.

    Just some more thoughts for you. Try something and let us know how it goes. You are wise to be looking for tips on how to help your daughter to be healthier. This will also help her to have a higher immune system which means she will get sick less often or when she does get sick, her body will be able to fight it off faster.

    Keep us posted.

    Warm regards,

    Kate

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