“Fussy eating” in children aged between one and five years has become so commonplace that it is now considered a part of normal child development. Rapid weight gain and eating well during infancy is soon replaced by erratic eating habits and smaller portions of food during the toddler years. One-third of the children in this age group practice selective eating or refuse food, which is often mistaken for poor appetite. Mealtimes have now become a war zone and also an acute parental concern.
What Really Happens after Age One?
A child stops meeting parent’s expectations about portions. Here is what happens to the relationship between a child and food after infancy and into toddlerhood.
- They become naturally suspicious of new things, especially food, and hence show great hesitance to try new food.
- This age group is learning independence which also means asserting it at mealtimes.
- Toddlers “test” parents and learn the art of manipulation through their food choices.
- The development of food preferences takes place during the toddler years which can result in young children becoming fussy and picky about food choices.
- The rapid weight gain observed during infancy is now replaced with slower and lower weight gain.
A common observation about fussy eaters is that parents get preoccupied with the eating habit instead of helping them develop a natural interest towards food. Rarely can the lack of interest in eating be due to organic reasons. Parents should remember that the numbers on the weighing scale and the height chart are to be taken in context. If the pediatrician is satisfied with the growth, there is nothing to be alarmed about.