SafeMotherhood
safe motherhood

Health

Faddy eating

In their second year, children's energy needs are lower in relation to their body size - a pint (550ml) of whole milk supplies about a third of their energy requirements.

There may be days when your child seems to eat very little, but if he or she is growing well there's no need to worry. Otherwise, talk to your health visitor or see your GP. However, it's best not to let your child know that you are anxious. Children pick up on our concerns quite quickly and an undue focus on food may turn it into a battleground.

Food with a strange taste or texture may need to be offered several times before it is accepted. This is one reason why it is a good idea to eat with your child and let them see that you enjoy a wide range of foods. Avoid making something specially for them as you are more likely to let your disappointment show if your child refuses it.

While you can't make your child eat, you can do some positive things to help ensure that they get the nourishment they need. For instance, offer a range of suitably nourishing foods (See 'What does my child need to eat?'), and try to avoid sugar in general as it contributes no nutrients. This includes sweetened drinks and fruit juices, which can fill a child's stomach, reduce appetite and damage teeth.

Suggestions that have worked for others:

• Take your child out for exercise at least once every day. Playing in the park, playground, swimming or toddler gym increases their appetite.
• Let your older child help with preparing the food. Shelling peas or broad beans, peeling tangerines, washing grapes, and chopping bananas or cheese often means that these foods disappear before they reach the table! Even helping to stir mixtures and set the table will help your child see meals as a family event.
• Invite other children to share meals at your home, go out to eat with them or arrange a picnic together. Children will often eat food that they would otherwise reject in an unfamiliar setting where everyone else is eating.
• Some children seem to eat better if they have a series of small meals and healthy snacks, rather than waiting a long time between meals or having biscuits that fill them up before meals.