Increasing food choices

How to increase your child's food choices.

Q: Aside from bread, yogurt, cheese and cookies, my 22-month-old eats nothing but jarred baby food. We have tried to give him what we eat, but he is not interested.

A: Your son does eat cookies, so it’s apparent he has learned to chew and have different textures of food in his mouth. This is a beginning. Over time, you can increase his food choices by gradually introducing chunkier foods that are attractive looking, in flavours he likes and in bite-sized pieces. But don’t offer anything until he’s hungry. If he refuses to eat, let the food stay available to him (within a food-safe period of time), but don’t give him drinks or alternatives until the next meal. Be firm while at the same time ensuring he continues to gain and grow. Make sure your doctor is aware of the problem and monitoring it.

Rest assured you are not alone: Some 30 percent of parents say they have major issues with feeding. Often this is a child’s way of letting you know he is becoming his own independent person. In many areas, this is to be celebrated. However, if his emerging assertiveness is affecting his health, you need to step in and give him a bit more direction. Persistence and taking a step at a time are key. It will also help for him to see you eating different types of food, and to occasionally have a playmate who does eat well come over to have lunch with him.