1. “My child refuses to eat unless he’s in front of the TV. Is this okay?” “The problem with a child eating in front of the TV is that he becomes distracted and is therefore not aware of how much food is being consumed,” explains Debbie Benito, nutritionist. “Let your child know that there is a time and place for everything.”
Familiarize him with the different parts of the house and teach him that eating should be done only at the dinner table. Set a time for eating. Try using placemats or utensils with his favorite cartoon characters to entice him to eat at the table. “It all boils down to what’s practiced at home,” says Rea Carganillo, a preschool teacher at Assumption Antipolo. Justine Tajonera, mom to Badger, 5, says that what works for her is to establish that “eating time is together time.” Benito also suggests that parents should make their child participate in tasks like setting the table or saying grace before meals. Such activities will help him give importance to observing table manners and etiquette, as well as playing an active role in the meal preparation process.
2. “Diego refuses to eat his veggies. He always spits them out. How can I get him to enjoy them?” “Explain to your child the importance of vegetables in his diet,” says Benito. Vegetables are not only rich in natural fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals; they also regulate body processes and bowel movement. “Be creative when it comes to incorporating vegetables into his meals or snacks,” she urges. Try pureeing squash or malunggay leaves and adding these to cookies or cakes. Check out alternatives such as carrot-based pasta or malunggay bread. “Find fun kiddie recipes on the Net that make use of veggies,” suggests Carganillo.
Introduce a new vegetable each week so your tot can taste something different every time. “If he doesn’t like it, it’s okay. Let him try other types,” says Lara Nilo, 36, mom to Santi, 4. Above all, set an example. “Walk the talk,” says Carganillo. “When you set the rules, model them.”