Children between the ages of 1-3 have gained their independence. They feel free and unencumbered. Therefore, the only thing they want to do all the time is explore. They want to see what more they can discover. The world is interesting to them. Sitting down to eat is deemed a waste of time. Time that could be spent doing other more interesting things. The first thing one should remember is to stay calm. Getting a spoonful into the mouth is difficult when they are rushing off to find a butterfly.
It is important to ensue that the feeding problem is not being caused by health issues. Is the child playful? Is the child running a fever? Is there something unusual like a rash or blood-shot eyes? Does the child seem pale? These are questions one should ask before blaming the low appetite on stage.
While the parent or guardian decides what to offer and when to offer it, the child is the ultimate boss. They will decide how much to eat and what to pick from the items on offer. At this stage, the child understands the difference between hunger and satiety. If he or she is hungry, they will eat. If not, then you should get out before it gets ugly. Just make sure the food stays within reach so he or she can help themselves when hunger strikes.
One should offer small amounts of food. The child will take one look at the plate and think they might as well get it over with now. Small amounts of food will not seem daunting. They will not feel like it is as much of a time suck as it normally would. It is best to let them ask for more.
When one is handling a task with music in the background or while they are engaged in conversation, they will rarely notice when completion is achieved. The same trick can be used on the child. Engage them in conversation. Talk to them about things that have nothing to do with the food before them. Ask them about their friends and the family pet. Talk about the weather, anything to get their mind off the task at hand.
One could make art work from the food. Draw a smiley face on the plate or animals. This makes the food interesting and appealing. One could also hand them a spoon and have them scoop little amount into their mouth. This gives them a sense of independence. Soon they will start looking forward to meal times because they eat like the big people.
Eat together as a family. Even an adult will hae trouble being the only one with food at meal time. Sit the child at the table with the rest of the family and give them their own place with a bit of food in it. It will be very messy but some of it will end up in their tummy. One could also let them eat from mummy’s plate. Another trick is to serve their food in the regular family plates.
The child should stay well hydrated and rested. Otherwise, they will be restless, fussy and uncomfortable. They should be allowed time to play so they can expend all that restless energy.