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Food for young children who eat poorly or refuse food

Children who eat poorly create great anxiety in their parents. Preschool children often get quite pungent in the food and can not so often refuse food. Quite a few children (not all) find it exciting with different flavors during the second half of their first year of life and shortly after the first birthday. You who have one-year-olds who like to eat parsnip, cod and garlic salami: enjoy and rejoice in it! But don't be disappointed if it doesn't last forever.

For those of you who have a smaller child, read about taster portions here

The appetite decreases with the growth rate

From the age of one year, the growth rate of children decreases significantly. This means that the children need to eat less food. They will eat smaller portions than before. Don't worry about it!

Children should become slimmer after one to two years of age

Children under about one and a half years of age may prefer to be chubby. The most important thing for their growth is that they get a proper intake of food (including breast milk or formula), then the weight first increases, and then the length. We also know that the fat reserves that children have during this time they will not carry with them into adulthood.

After about one or two years, the children should not become chubbier anymore, they should become slimmer. The slimmest in our entire lives we should be at the age of 5-6. A normal and healthy 5-6 year old has visible ribs and flat stomach. During this time, growth is controlled by growth hormone that helps children to grow longer and at the same time narrower. Therefore, the children eating a little less and become slimmer is nothing to be worried about as long as they follow their growth curve at BVC. On the contrary, we know that a missed taper of children of this age is often the gateway to future obesity and obesity.

Read more about obesity in children here

As long as the child follows their growth curve, it will get enough food in itself. No matter how incredible it may seem, even with a child eating three macaroni and four peas in one day.

Read more about what is bad growth in children here. 

The selective age

Most children tend to become increasingly agitated with what they eat from one and a half to two years of age. They also have strikingly similar taste. Many children like meatballs, sausages, pancakes, light macaroni and white rice. Some children may also like fish fingers and potatoes. The vegetable preference differs slightly more is my experience, but peas, corn, carrots and cucumbers are probably the safest choices when we invite preschool buddies to eat with us.

Few children of this age like stews, slow cooked meats, fish or more advanced vegetable dishes. If your four year old does: congratulations!

Serve something the child likes for every meal

If you have a child who eats very selectively, I don't think you should just serve what the child likes to the whole family every day. Then you die others of food boredom. On the other hand, I also do not think that the child should be forced to taste things it does not like. It just gets noisy and more food jams from it. Make sure that there is always something the child usually likes on the table, and preferably vary between meals whether it is a protein source, a carbohydrate source or vegetables / fruits. For example, if you serve spaghetti with minced meat sauce and carrots on Monday and your child only eats spaghetti, then serve potatoes with meatballs and broccoli on Tuesday if you know the child eats meatballs. On Wednesday, it may be the banana for dessert if your child is a vegetable refiner but eats the banana. One third of vegetables, one third of protein and one third of carbohydrates, fixed over three days.

If you want tips on easy-to-prepare healthy food for children, read more here.

Feel free to make a useful dessert for the children every day

When the children do not eat from the main course I think it is all the more important to serve a dessert, it increases the chance that the child gets something in it. On weekdays, the desserts can be fruit, fruit yogurt, nuts, fruit smoothie and yogurt in or maybe a small sandwich. A little (one teaspoon per serving) of sugar in the dessert is ok, but desserts with a lot of sugar and saturated fat type ice cream, chocolate, sweet cream or cookies belong on Saturday. Or Friday or Sunday if you prefer it in your home.

Read more about sugar for children here

Respect the children's no

When a child says no to more food, whether it's the one-year-old who squeezes his mouth and starts pounding with the spoon, or the five-year-old who says "no thanks mom, chicken I just don't eat!" So respect it! Nothing nagging. To older children, you might like to say that “I understand, but the body needs protein / vegetables (whatever the child has rated). What is on the table that you would like to eat to give your body what it needs? ”.

Remember that children do not die of starvation if food is available. The food refusal is not so dangerous, wait for the next meal and do not make a big deal because the child does not want to eat.

End the meal after 20 minutes

After 20 minutes of eating, children often do not eat more. Then finish the meal. Some children are unfocused and talk and pills with their hair, and line up peas, but do not eat very much. They can often pee for a long time. Those children may need to help regain their concentration on food. It can be a good goal even for jealous children that the meal should be completed after 20 minutes, but many reminders from parents may sometimes be needed.

Never compare your children's appetite or meal habits with anyone else's!

"When your big brother was your age he ate both peas and beans, you should do that too". It has never helped and will never help. That kind of comments just makes the kids angry at each other and at you. Do not.

Do not use food as a reward or punishment

The children need good food, no matter what mood they are in or if they have been extra kind or nasty. Never allow food or dessert or sweets to be a reward for doing good to the child. Never let the threat of missing food or dessert or sweets become a punishment for anything bad the child has done. Instead, let the meal be a break in the noise. "Now it's dinner time, we haven't gotten the same after you beat little sister, but come to the food I promise not to talk about that".

Read more about responding to children of obstinate age here

Don't forget the snacks!

Preschool children need food every two to three hours during the waking half of the day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack (possibly one to snack), dinner, (possibly evening snack). Many children who are stingy with the food eat much more snacks. Then let them do it! Food every two to three hours is also very good for children's (and yours!) Mood. Good snacks, for example, are a few pieces of fruit, or a sandwich (wholemeal bread / wholemeal crispbread) with butter and ham or nut butter or cheese, or some nuts and some dried fruit, or some yogurt with muesli, or a not very sweet fruit yogurt (read table of contents! ) or half a scythe, or some porridge.

Read more:

Poor growth in children - investigate and interpret a growth curve

Taster portions for baby - when and how to introduce food?

Easily prepared healthy food for children

The Troublesome Age - so you handle three-year strides in children

To feel like a bad mother - when you can't cope with your children

Obesity in children, childhood obesity and BMI in children

Yes, children are allowed to eat sugar!

Lactose intolerance in children

What is an allergy? Read about allergies - the phobias of the immune system

Food for young children who eat poorly or refuse food
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26 thoughts on “<trp-post-container data-trp-post-id="431">Mat till små barn som äter dåligt eller matvägrar</trp-post-container>”

  1. Hello,

    I think it is actually more culturally conditioned what children like to eat at preschool age. If you, like me, have insight into how children eat in a certain Mediterranean country, it is actually pots (both vegetable and meat) that apply and a lot of fresh vegetables. There are no other alternatives in that food culture. You use olive oil as food fat and it is also a taste that the children get used to and like.

  2. My (soon to be) four-year-old is eating exactly as described in this blog post. We try to make sure that there is something in the meal that he likes, but the sad thing is that he refuses both fruit and vegetables. The things he actually liked in the past have gradually been discarded, now we are overjoyed when in certain periods he actually eats apple. It seems so little is required for him to conclude that something is disgusting, think for example. that carrots fell away after we happened to buy a really sad bag that we had to give him before I also tasted a carrot from it (they were not very good).

    My problem is preschool. He has recently switched to the grandchildren ward and there he is apparently the only child with discerning eating habits. In the last section they could be a bit flexible and e.g. give him a snack if he hadn't eaten any lunch at all and it was between him he didn't like (he also refuses liquid / semi-liquid milk products, cheese is the only thing he eats). But not on the new one. I am so saddened by the thought that he sometimes goes all day at preschool without eating anything.

    1. It sounds like you need to have a conversation with preschool staff about his eating routines at preschool I think and what rules they have. Obviously, he has to get food there in a way he can eat.

  3. Hey! Thanks for a great blog. Have problems with our 4 year old who has refused food since the age of 10 months. Then he ate only fruit puree, gruel and porridge, then went over to sandwich, lasagna cans and yogurt. Now he eats sandwiches, special yogurt, pasta, rice and potatoes and fish sticks sometimes. He does not like protein, he rapes and suffocates. We have bribed, cheated and struggled so much over the years. We have tried most things, but when we followed the advice not to trough or nag, he only went up 100 g in 1 year and the length planned, we got control and felt unsuccessful as parents.
    However, fantastic preschool teachers who have fed and tripped have never forced my son. The preschool teachers did their best and we started troughing and he went up 800 g in two months. If he can decide it will be pasta with frozen grated cheese and ketchup but very small portion, sometimes 1 tablespoon of rice and never vegetables. He eats apple or banana and drinks milk. No candy or soda without popcorn and salty biscuits is served as a Friday night. Bvc has been like that, changed a bit but now that little brother 2 years starts to adopt the behavior we ordered time with a dietician. He grows ok in length but the weight is not so good. Did not get any more concrete tips than to give it time but is afraid that he will lose length and we are quite short in the family. Dinner is not so cozy with a 4 year old who refuses to eat and a 2 year old who tests are boundaries and imitates the brother. We are, as in, understand the right frustrated toddler parents!

  4. After a long time, I start the discussion again with a post.
    My current 6 year old had a period when he wasn't eating or pooping. And every other week when he came home from his dad he went on +40 in fever without any other symptoms. BVC and doctors agreed that we would give him what he got. And in this case, it was rosehip soup and my mom's homemade juice to raise blood sugar to a level where he could eat something more palatable while sitting.
    But when dental care was heard about this, I went as a responsible parent on proper scalding and oblivion.
    Terribly unpleasant!
    So the boy has taught me never to force or threaten with the food. But always offer and attract new flavors.
    Today he eats everything except caviar and sushi.
    And have the attitude that you taste before you say -No thanks I do not like. (Then you actually get to spit out something that is really disgusting in our family.)
    Probably when he was pleasantly surprised over and over again that food actually tastes better than it may seem.

  5. Thanks for what you wrote in the last paragraph, children need food often. I was upset when a dental hygienist came to bvc and talked to my parent group whose children were then 8 months old. "Teeth must rest at least 3-4 hours between goals," she urged, displaying information material that said the same thing.
    Sure, small teeth need rest and what she said is certainly good from a career point of view, but for babies and toddlers, 4 hours is a very long time. Sad to say that dental care comes with thoughtful touches that some parents will take literally.

  6. Hey! Maybe I missed some answers to my question but, can children of 1.5 years of age eat too mkt? Our daughter says "more" all the time! She has a small bulb on her stomach but is nice and moving. Drain the stomach daily. We are worried that she is eating too much and we do not know when to say stop .. Grateful for guidance !!!

    1. Be glad your daughter likes food! If she follows her curve at BVC, she grows a lot and thus eats a lot. If not you can think differently, but never say stop at the food.

    2. Thanks!! :). We will be going to Bvc soon so then we will get black and white if we "do" her for mkt :). Thanks for a quick reply and great blog!

  7. What a wonderful & liberating post!
    I have kids who are food refusers and kids who always seem hungry-
    how do you look at saying "now it is enough" to a child who wants more food?
    She is not overweight but at the same time she seems to eat completely without stopping… .She is 3 years and I worry a bit as being overweight is a problem in the family, not morbid obesity but quite overweight and “having easy to put on weight”… .
    Should she eat as much as possible?
    Thanks for a good, easy going and informative blog!

    1. If your child has a normal weight and length development and a normal BMI for the age (ask on BVC) then she has - so far - eaten a lot. When it comes to main courses and vegetables, I don't think you need to limit. Desserts and snacks I usually always limit myself in how much I serve. Eating the barmen for too much snack does not make them hungry for food. If you eat too much (useless) dessert, it will not be good for the body.

  8. Have a soon-to-be four-year-old who quite suddenly likes salmon, meat pans and other things that definitely did not go six months ago. The favorite is tomato soup (!) And of course macaroni lengthwise and transversely. The only thing he frequently complains about is when it is too strong. Therefore, I spice sparingly and place the pepper mill on the table.
    So you who have "picky" kids stand out. For us, it just turned suddenly. And some days there is absolutely nothing more than carrots and tomatoes…

  9. I look for info on "food problems" as often as I can. Has a guy of 3 years who stopped eating food and gruel in conjunction with when he started kindergarten as a 1 year old.
    We have fought so, but the strange thing is that he always followed his curve!
    Your tips on getting different nutritional sources in three days is about as it seems to us.

    He eats fallow sausage, pancakes, sausage with bread, spaghetti, sandwich, yogi and banana / apple and that's all! Drink a lot of milk and sweets go well.
    But he does not put anything new in his mouth. He eats with his eye and is very "special". The fallow sausage must not have roasting surface and sausage with bread must not have the skin left, if it is tiny brown on the banana he does not eat it. The yogurt has to be the same package we always buy so it just goes with a taste.
    Is it a dishonorable behavior? Reads a lot about similar problems in light autism.
    He is completely normal otherwise and early with speech and intellect.
    Often complains of stomach upset! Never tough, on the contrary.
    However, his stools are always very light and when he sweats (usually when he sleeps) it smells bad. Pajamas and sheets smell like sour.
    I am so worried that something is wrong!

    1. Hey!
      I cannot answer questions about individual children and whether they may have an illness or not in the blog. It becomes a form of healthcare, and it does not work to run it in blog form. I suggest that you seek a pediatrician in the outpatient clinic and tell you about your concerns, in some county councils a referral from a health center is required, in others you can call and make an appointment. BVC usually knows.
      Greetings
      Cecilia

    2. But then I recognized what you wrote! My son turns three in May and he eats pretty much exactly what you wrote and also eats with his eye! God forbid it is brown on the banana or oh a peppercorn that shows or yes what it can be! He is super smart, talked early and endlessly, following his weight curve although he sometimes doesn't even eat a bite of mellow or lunch at the preschool! However, I am not worried about autism and he sweats when he sleeps but not acidic and is very hard in the stomach so we are on glute and milk investigation finally! But funny how similar they can be in the way!

      Cecilia thanks, thank you THANK YOU for this post! As we struggled with it hear the damn food! Sometimes we argue that it should be tasted, or eaten or yours and that! No more, now it gets to be what you are suggesting as it reduces friction and maybe dramatizes eating a bit. Have your blog post read aloud here at home and we have agreed on a common strategy 🙂

  10. Hey! But isn't this very individualistic how children look, ie their physique? I have a son of 3 years, he is about 104 cm and the weight maybe 18, 19 kg. He is slim, but has a small beer belly. He loves food. He eats breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner and evening swell before going to bed. And if he likes the food at lunch, he can eat type 3, 4 servings. We have never shown him sweets, cakes, ice cream, so they don't like him. Without the food he eats and on weekends it sometimes becomes useless like ex pizza. So I can't see my baby getting narrower than when he was two .. Do you mean I should limit his intake of food then?

    1. A three year old can definitely have a small "beer belly", while a five year old should not have it. It sounds like you have good eating habits at home and your boy's height and weight also seems to be normal for the age. However, in order to get a complete picture, one must see a whole growth curve. Ask to have a look at the growth curve and BMI curve the next time you are at bvc and that bvc-ssk will tell you about his interpretation of his growth. If he follows the growth curves and is normally on the BMI curve, he will do away with enough even if he eats large portions. Then he has also narrowed down, although it does not really appear. In that case, of course you should not change anything! If he gains weight faster than the curves, it may be a good idea to look over his eating habits a bit more carefully, which the BVC nurse should be able to help with.

  11. Nice to read the section about six year olds. My girl, in my eyes, is very slim and eats a little (she and my one year old take equal portions!). However, according to schooling, everything is normal. I wonder if we got used to the fact that children are a little more possible nowadays?

    1. I definitely think we got used to the look of kids who are overweight and don't "see" it by ourselves. Or I know it is, I notice it at work when I and many others are surprised that a child has obesity / obesity (we have BMI curves for that) without reacting to the look at all. This is probably because normal-weight 1-2-year-olds have the same body shape, and so we think that it is normal for older children as well, which it is not.

  12. That's exactly what I wanted to read about, thank you! Great tips with useful desserts, I must remember. Bookmark this post, of course. 🙂

  13. What a pleasure to read that it is actually normal whether my child weighs 7 kg or 10 kg before the age of 1-1.5 years. I was a little worried about it but it feels safer now.
    What good tips about the food and how to and should not do. Have read it there to compare with siblings and the like. is stupid and now here too.
    I really hope our little slut wants to eat other than minced beef sauce and spaghetti in the future, because now it's not much else that is enough ...
    Have a good night.
    Luiza

    1. If your bvc-ssk is satisfied with your child's weight, so be it! Nice that you like the tips. Friends with older children say that they often start eating more and more sometime ahead of middle school age, but I already find it easier with my five year old.

  14. How happy I was to read this. Have a 2½ year old who has been crazy about food since he was about 1 year. Practicing that he eats what he wants at every feeding opportunity and as long as he grows and feels good, I see no problem in that. Many people in my neighborhood almost get angry with me and think I am spoiling him. Hate to see young children become forced food. Know that they taste when they feel ready.

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