It's always a challenge to feed kids who are too picky about what they eat. Smart Parenting consulted with Velvet Escario-Roxas, who conducts Tamang Kanin: Infant and Young Child Feeding Seminar, on how to make sure your child gets the proper nutrition despite.
Q: My son, who's two, has tried instant pancit canton and likes it. How can I wean him from it?
A: It's the parents, not their children, who have buying power. If the children don't have access to that food, then one day they will somehow just forget it. Instead of overly commercialized and MSG-laden pancit canton, prepare homemade pancit with mixed vegetables for your son.
Parents need to be extra conscious of what they're feeding their children. Don't feed them too much fried, salty, and sugary food. If they get used to these strong flavors, they would naturally reject natural food.
Q: Ever since my son stopped drinking milk from a bottle, he has disliked milk, whether it's fresh or powdered, unless it's chocolate flavored. How do I get him to drink plain milk again?
A: We don't need to drink cow's milk, but we need calcium. Cow's milk isn't the only source of calcium. Try plant-based milks such as organic soymilk, hazelnut milk, almond milk, and rice milk. One trick is to blend organic soymilk with mango juice for your son to drink.
Q: How can I make my 5-year-old like eating veggies?
A: First, parents have to like eating vegetables. It's all about role modeling. I don't expect my own kids to eat ampalaya because I myself don't eat it. However, I do eat a lot of gree, leafy vegetables, and my kids enjoy eating adobong alugbati and pako salad, which are my favorites, too.
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Be creative. Kids want to be entertained. Play with their imagination. When both my daughters were still in preschool, I would say something like, "Look at Cinderella-- she has a nice blush. If you want it, too, eat lots and lots of tomatoes."
Q: My daughter, who's five, eats only bread of all kinds. Please help!
A: Involve her in preparing her food, from farm to table. Whether it's gardening, harvesting, cleaning, choosing, preparing, or cooking, she should be involved.
We grow calamansi, oregano, alugbati, malunggay, and other vegetables in our home garden. You can do the same, too, and use pots if you don't have ample space. During food prep, your child can remove malunggay leaves from the stalk or cut tomatoes. No child won't eat a dish she has cooked herself. It's her achievement, it is her pride and joy, which would make her excited to eat it. It's a lot of work, but change does occur.
Velvet Escario-Roxas, CD, whose primary advocacy is breastfeeding, is a certified birth doula affiliated with Doulas of North America International. She is also a breastfeeding counselor, educator, and trainer at Arugaan, a support community for mothers that provides information on maternal, infant, and young child nutrition aside from breastfeeding counseling. She is a mom to two girls, ages eight and 13.
This story originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Smart Parenting magazine.