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Good News for Parents of Poor Eaters

Advice on eating better!

Many parents have a young child who just doesn't seem to eat enough, or eats only one thing. Researchers have learned that preschool children described as "poor eaters" by their parents are usually getting enough calories, vitamins and nutrients.  One finding was that "poor eaters" got a larger proportion of their total calories from snacks rather than meals. Sometimes parents of poor eaters inadvertently make matters worse by trying to force children to eat. "The aim is to let your child's natural appetite come to the surface so he or she wants to eat," says Maria Nanagas, MD, director of Children's Health Clinic.

She advises parents of toddlers and preschoolers to offer well-balanced, nutritious meals from the four basic food groups. Offer gentle encouragement, but don't make meals a battle. At the end of the meal take uneaten food away. Offer food only at meal times and snacks - for toddlers, two to three snacks a day. Don't allow eating between meals and snacks.

"Regular check-ups will tell you if your child's height and weight are within normal ranges," Dr. Nanagas says. If your "poor eater' is growing normally, relax!

From Growing Together, published by The Children's Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio, Fall 2004, Vol. 28, No.3