“My child is a difficult eater” is the common complaint expressed by parents, especially mothers. What parents often mean when they refer to difficult eaters is that their children refuse to eat, while it could be simply because their child is not hungry or is too full at meal time. To handle this situation, the first step that parents should take is to monitor their children’s growth. If their child is growing well, their weight growth should be in line with their age or height aspects. If it is in line, most likely their children are getting sufficient nutrition even with what may be an irregular eating schedule.
Assessing a child’s growth can be done by comparing their weight or height to their age, or by comparing their weight to their height. Suggested growth charts by WHO are used in Indonesia in the form of a health card (KMS). It is important to take weight and height measurements as well as to regularly note it on the child’s growth chart.
Many parents still assume that a child’s main source of food is rice. If a child has not eaten rice, then it is considered they haven’t had a real meal. However, rice is only one source of carbohydrate. Other carbohydrate sources which are also considered as a staple food are bread, noodles, potato, pasta, macaroni, sweet potato, cassava, oatmeal, corn and many others. Therefore, a whole variety of food can be enjoyed by your child in the form of fried potatoes, chicken porridge, corn soup, spaghetti and many others.
Another factor that causes children to be difficult eaters is the excessive consumption of snacks. Thus, we need to take a notice of what kind of snacks they have eaten. If they eat snacks that are insufficient in nutrition which leads to their decrease in appetite during meal time, they could not be getting enough nutrition. Therefore, parents should make a daily eating schedule so that their children will eat well and get the necessary nutrition both through their meals and snacks. The following is an example of a good daily eating schedule:
Upon waking up : 1 glass of milk
Breakfast : Main menu with complete nutrition
Morning Snacks : Cake
Lunch : Main menu with complete nutrition
Additional Nutrition Intake : Fruits or milk
Dinner : Main menu with complete nutrition
Additional Nutrition Intake (if needed) : Milk