Simple ways to ensure that your baby is eating enough
As they begin to grow up, babies and toddlers use a natural intuition to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. But how do you ensure that your child is eating enough? While overfeeding toddlers is never recommended, parents also need to make sure that they are getting enough nourishment. Planning balanced meals, containing carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, is not enough for this. Plus, if your toddler is fussy about certain foods, he or she might be missing out on vital macro or micronutrients.
So, you need to gauge whether he or she is eating enough. Here are some smart ways to do just that:
- Every day, offer meals at scheduled times to your child. This will regularise his or her eating pattern.
- Do not feed your child everything all at once. Instead of giving 3 large meals, provide small but frequent meals. He or she will be able to tolerate and digest these better.
- Try to read your toddler’s hunger cues. Don’t try to over-feed or under-feed.
- Come up with ways to quantify the meal. For example, initially, each feed should be about the size of the child’s fist.
- Post 8 months, you can start introducing meals with a cereal-pulse combination. Try to figure out whether the baby is tolerating a particular food or not.
- When you are offering the meals, make sure they are in a form that is acceptable by your child. Cook the hard foods well, and mash them if need be. Start with a semi-solid consistency and slowly make your way to tougher foods. Make sure you don’t give your toddler too hot or too cold foods. Room temperature is ideal.
- If your child refuses to eat a particular item, or throws it out, be patient with him or her. Give your little one what he or she likes, and make sure you reintroduce what he or she does not, in a more acceptable way. If your child, for example, does not like carrots, mash it with more veggies and make a nugget that is shaped interestingly.
- Teach your little one proper table etiquette from the very beginning. Make him or her sit at the table and eat food without any distractions. For example, avoid making the child eat food while he or she is watching the TV or playing a game. Even it makes your task of feeding him or her easier, he or she will never learn to eat mindfully. Moreover, distracted children often don’t read hunger and satiety cues well. They might end up eating more or less.
- Plan meals in advance, keeping all the food groups in mind. Cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables, milk and milk products, nuts, and seeds and oils, must be incorporated.
- Make sure the meal looks colourful. This will ensure that most of the vitamins and minerals are on your child’s plate. Go with the “rainbow on my plate” theme. This will attract your child too and control any fussy eating behaviour.
- Provide the baby with fortified foods like fortified cereals, along with mother’s milk. This will help him or her reach the ultimate nutritional goal.
Monitor your child’s growth chart. If the child is growing both height-wise and weight-wise, then you do not have to worry. It means that your child is getting good nutrition and is growing properly. In case the weight and height do not match the expected ranges, according to the age of the child, you need to pay close attention to the nutrition. You can also consult a doctor or dietician if you feel your child is undernourished.