How can I make my daughter eat everything?
Q: My daughter is 3 years old. She is 86 cm tall and weighs 10 kg. She is very active and intelligent, but she is a fussy eater and she doesn't eat by herself. This combination leads to shouting and cursing her. She hates milk, food, fruits etc. We have to force, shout, or tell her stories to make her eat. Each meal takes about half an hour to 2 hours. If left to her, she will neither drink milk nor eat more than 2-3 bites. She likes chips, ladyfinger, namak paare etc. Chips, I generally avoid unless we are out of home. I give her lady finger 2-3 times in a week and namak paare once a day, as snacks. I prepare nutritious and a variety of things like poha, upma, parantha, all seasonal vegetables and fruits. We eat everything and make her eat with us. She likes curd a lot. But she gets throat infection, so I can't give her that. She does not relish paneer. She used to drink milk from the bottle from 1 year to 2.5 years of age, but it's a struggle from the glass. I dread waking her up in morning and getting her ready for school. Milk takes an hour and she does not take any solids. Her father was like her in his childhood. Is it hereditary? How can I make her eat by herself? My husband is against taking help of any professional in this respect. All this is affecting my behaviour. At times I don't feel like talking to my daughter or loving her. Please help.
A:Since your child has some food preferences, there is no harm in including them in her diet everyday. If she likes chips, make that a part of the meal, at least once a day, so that some calories go in. If she hates milk and likes curd, giver her curd. It is not scientifically established that curd give one a cold. In any case you are now in the summer months. Only, you should make sure that the curd is not sour or too cold. Serve her curd at or just a little below room temperature. While some children eat by themselves even at 18 months, other children take their time. There is no harm in feeding your child, but without shouting at her or forcing her. Make mealtimes a little playful, with stories and conversations. Introduce new foods gradually and let her taste it and decide if she likes something. Maybe she would have milk if you added some cocoa powder to it. Sometimes children eat a dosa or chapatti if it is made into funny shapes, like a cat or a flower! Instead of putting all your energy into getting your child to eat by herself, do anything by which she has the required amounts and nutrients. Gradually she will put on weight and start eating on her own. In the mornings, let her go to school on a full stomach rather than a half full stomach and facing an angry and exasperated mother. I am convinced that you provide a variety of foods on the table, but most children under 8, do not seem to like Upma or Poha. They prefer something crisp, that they can pick up and eat. It seems to me to be simply a matter of adjusting your expectations for a few months. You are interested in her being healthy and happy. To ensure this, you cannot enact a semi-tragedy every morning. Relax! Children do grow up!