Are you, like many other parents, constantly worrying about making your little one eat her next meal without a fuss?
Well, it is only natural for parents to dread their kiddo’s tantrums. A tantrum-throwing baby at mealtime often becomes one of the hardest things for parents to handle. Not only do the tantrums make mealtimes longer and tiring; they are also emotionally draining for both – the parent, as well as, the child.
An effective tantrum could range from anything like loud screaming, to foot stamping, lying down on the floor, crying, wailing loudly, fist punching, banging, throwing things, to even hitting others, biting, and hair pulling in extreme cases. However, if the baby is successful in evading food by throwing a tantrum, this negative reinforcement encourages her further, to use this method every time. Before you realize it, tantrums become your little one’s favorite attention grabbing and food evading technique. The good news though is that you can handle your child’s food tantrums successfully. All you need to do is to make small habit changes that encourage your little one into eating her food peacefully.
Food tantrums normally start when your child is between 12 to 14 months of age. This is when kids begin to develop a mind of their own and understand what they like and dislike. They also learn certain behavior patterns that will help them get their way.
If your child tends to scream and cry during mealtime, then you can try some simple methods to manage the fuss and get them to eat better.
When children are about 12 months old, you can teach them the concept of rules. Keep the rules simple and easy for the child to understand. For instance, if your little one throws food or throws a fit while eating, tell them that you will take the food away if they do not stop. It is very important for you to follow through. Just take the food away for about half an hour and try feeding the child again. Repeat this until the intensity of the tantrum reduces.
Keeping the child engaged is one of the best ways to manage the tantrums. By this age, children are able to hold things with their fingers and this is one of their favorite activities. You can give your child several finger foods including soft fruits and cooked veggies cut into pieces that they can pick and pop into their mouth.
Introducing colorful variety in every plate keeps your child distracted. Encourage independent eating, but be around. Babies and toddlers love the idea of being independent when they eat.
Most, often tantrums are because they want to indulge in some activity that is more interesting to them than eating. For instance, the child would rather play with a new toy than eat. Make mealtime all about the food. Remove the distractions such as toys, gadgets, or even the television from the child’s environment during mealtime. This is also a great chance for you to bond with your child. Choose a quiet place in the house and dedicate it to mealtime. Talk to your child or even tell him or her stories while you feed them.
Quite interestingly, some mealtime tantrums are because your child is actually too hungry. When you delay mealtime by even 15 minutes, expect your child to get a little cranky. If you are having trouble feeding your child during a particular meal, especially, advancing the time by a few minutes can help quite a bit. It is also a great idea to include light snacks between two meals to make sure that the gap is not too much. That way your toddler will be calm and relaxed before his or her mealtime and will be less fussy.
Turning mealtime into a fun activity is a sure shot way of reducing tantrums. Storytelling while you feed your child is one of the oldest and most popular methods used. Another great way to make mealtime engaging for your child is to add lots of colors and textures to the plate. You can even cut food up into fun shapes that your little one will love looking at and picking up. Forcing your child to eat is one of the worst things that you can do. It only makes the tantrum more intense.
The biggest mistake that parents make is allowing the child to have his way just to stop the tantrum. If your child cries or screams, the best way is to distract them first. If it does not work, tell your kiddo that all that screaming will not work. Convey that you will only talk to her or play with her once they stop screaming. It is heartbreaking to watch your toddler cry, but being strict is sometimes the only way to get a food tantrum to stop. If your child wants you to chase him around the house just to get him to eat one morsel, or if your child wants to eat only a certain type of food, do not give in.
Also Read: 18 Unsafe Foods For Your Baby before 1 year
Try until your child is willing to do things your way and when they do, find a simple way of rewarding them. Like take them out for a visit to the park and mention how their good behavior has made you happy. Avoid materialistic rewards and everytime your child behaves appropriately a reward is not required. Just a hug, a kiss, and words of appreciation are enough. This is because if rewards become a habit, you will have a toddler who eats only when a reward is promised. Now that’s a habit that will be really hard to break!
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