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How can I make my child feed herself?

Q: My daughter is 1.5 years old. She is very active and cannot sit in one place. She is a fussy eater and I have to force feed her. She will never pick up any food and eat on her own. I have started sending her to a play school. She never cries and looks busy with the toys and other kids. If asked to, she picks up the toys and puts them back into the box. Her main problem is that she does not eat on her own and even when she sees children eating, she will pick their food and put it into their mouth, not her own. Her teacher says she needs to be disciplined but I feel she’s too young to understand rules and I fear if we force her into anything, she might become stubborn. How do I get her to eat on her own?

A:Some children do eat on their own around 17 or 18 months of age. But since your child does not do so, it is OK for you to feed her. But do it gently and playfully and distract her with a story or a toy, while she is eating. Traditionally, our elders would take the baby to the verandah or balcony and watching crows fly around has been the most common entertainment for babies when they are fed. They should be able to have some flexibility in a Play Group and not insist on the child being disciplined . But I guess you cant say that, as a parent availing the services. Try and invent a game to make her eat. In any case ensure that she has enough nutrition. Find out what healthy foods are attractive to her and make them for her. Sometimes a chapatti or a dosa in the shape of a cat (and this is easy to do) may get her to feel amused and to eat it well. If you have access to a dietician or some similar person in your neighbourhood, ask them for advice. An aunt or grandmother can also come up with practical suggestions. All the best.


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