No Show of Force


Do mealtimes turn into a battle of wills between you and your picky eater? Bullying your child to eat is not the answer. In fact, it may even have some serious implications. That's what Dr. Irene Chatoor said during the Abbott Nutrition event. A professor and vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Infant and Toddler Mental Health Program at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington D.C., Dr. Chantoor cites a study that says that your mealtime battles may even have an effect, not only on your child's emotional health, but also on his mental development too! She says that mental development index scores of picky eaters, one to three years old were found to be 14 points lower than those of healthy eaters. So leave the drill sergeant routine behind and get your child to eat up by laying low with these easy tips from the study of Dr. Benny Kerzner, chairman emeritus of the Children's National Medical Center Department of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, "Clinical Investigation of Feeding Difficulties in Young Children: A Practical Approach". Here are his tips:1. Maintain appropriate boundariesa. The parent decides where, when, and what the child eats.b. The child decides how much is eaten.2. Avoid distractiona. Feed the child free of noise and distraction.b. Use a high chair to help confine the toddler to the feeding environment.c. The child's chair should be at the table and the child should be encouraged to sit there for the duration of the meal.d. Parent may offer a toy to get the child settled, but the toy should be removed once the meal starts.3. Feed to encourage appetitea. Allow three- to four-hour intervals between meals.b. Avoid snacks like juice and milk and provide only water for thirst.c. For toddlers, time the meal frequency to coincide with the parent's meals; three meals and an afternoon snack are typical.4. Maintain neutral attitudea. Do not get overly excited or animated (e.g., it is not a good idea to fly airplanes into the mouth).b. Never become or even appear angry.5. Limit durationa. Eating should begin within 15 minutes of the start of the meal.b. Meals should last no longer than 30-35 minutes.c. Do not become a short-order cook.6. Serve age-appropriate fooda. Offer food commensurate with the child's oral motor development.b. Use reasonably small helpings (eg, the size of the child's fist).

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