My sister is mom to a rambunctious three-year-old who has too much energy to burn; she just cannot keep pace with her most of the time and is at her wits’ end as to how to keep her occupied in a positive way so that she is not up to mischief.
But her biggest worry is that the little one does not eat enough to sustain all her activities – every mealtime is an uphill climb with my sister cajoling, coaxing and enticing my niece to eat.
To make things worse, the active toddler is not too interested in snacking too – she eats a spoonful of ice cream and then leaves the rest to melt, she sucks on a lollipop for a few minutes and then throws it aside, and although she likes cake, she hardly eats more than a bite or two.
Something needed to be done, and fast. So we put our heads together and started experimenting with healthy snack choices, foods that would sustain her during playtime and augment the meals my sister fed her at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And we found that the following worked wonders:
- Fresh juice: My niece was surprisingly open to drinking up pomegranate and orange juice if it was freshly made at home. She hated the ones that came prepackaged which worked out better for my sister. After all, homemade snacks are any day healthier than processed food. So she bought the freshest fruits every day and it was no trouble at all making the juice. A word of advice when you’re giving your child juice – don’t add any sugar or honey; the fruit is naturally sweet enough and sugar is bad for health.
- Cut fruit: My sister also took to cutting up apples and pears into small pieces and leaving them around my niece’s play area in small bowls. Wonder of wonders, she would eat a piece whenever she felt like it. This way, she usually managed to eat a whole apple or pear every morning.
- Cashews and other nuts: We knew my niece loved cashews; so along with the four or five my sister would give her each day, she added de-skinned almonds and a few raisins as well. Although my niece avoided them at first, there came a day when she popped a raisin into her mouth by mistake, and from then on, she ate every single nut and fruit in the bowl.
- Milk chocolate: And finally, we discovered that milk chocolate that was not too sweet was the way to go when it came to my niece. Unlike other kids, she did not like candy too much. My sister would therefore give her a piece or two of her preferred milk chocolate every two or three days.
So if your child is a fussy eater, don’t worry. Just experiment till you find out what they really like and how you can make food more fun for them.
Masters in Counseling was created as a collaboration between Matt Green, an MSW degree holder, and Abby Nelson, an MEd program graduate. We have worked in the counseling field for a number of years, and throughout that time fielded numerous questions about various aspects of obtaining a Masters in Counseling degree.