Q: My 2-year old daughter doesn’t add body weight and she doesn’t like eating. Sometimes she eats very well and at other times she does not. She is also small for her age. What should l do?
A: Hmm! I’m sure every mum has heard this and has this fear! In fact, my second daughter was a major challenge for me. She was tiny and refused to eat anything…literally 😀 She constantly had her baby cup in her mouth and essentially lived on a fluid diet at a time when her mates were eating ‘major’ food! I kept begging God not to let her be malnourished…what would I tell people? 😀
But guess what? That little tot is all of 10 years old (in fact, today is her 10th year birthday) and she appears to be making up for lost ground…eating everything in-site. Thankfully too, she does love to eat healthy…the only one of my children I really don’t have to force….or to be more polite, encourage to eat right 😀
Remember that children, like all of us, are creatures of comfort and habit. So we really don’t want any change in what we are used to eating. This is especially more so for a 2 year old. If you have let her ‘dictate’ to a large extent what she eats and what she does not up till this time, then it is a bit more difficult now to ‘regiment’ her than when she was a year old ;D However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.
Here’s what to do. First, I try to remind parents that there’s only one boss and that’s you! 😀 Your baby needs to firmly understand that. And so, while your job is to provide a variety of foods for your baby to choose from (as best you can), it is your baby’s job to pick from these. So, if you provide for lunch two options of, brown rice with sardine sauce and steamed vegetables/Amala with Ewedu, stew and chicken, the choice she gets is which one of these she wants: rice or amala 😀 This, of course, is for a start as you try to tempt and encourage her taste buds to try different things (I can see a lot of you already asking, ‘am I going to prepare two lunches every time?’. The answer is No :D).
Try to prepare balanced meals with foods picked from all food groups and try different (healthy) ways of preparing them. Introduce fruits and vegetables early so that this habit is formed early and they grow up seeing that, eating with a plate half-filled with veggies, with the other half shared between carbs and protein, is normal 😀 Try different things until you discover the right combination.
A lot of times, because we are all busy with stuff, it’s convenient to make quick noodles and give cookies and then complain that that’s all the baby eats. But, when was the last time you made the effort to prepare something else and really encourage the baby to eat? Weaning or introduction of complementary feeds is not an easy task for most parents and so, it does require effort…a lot of it.
To confirm that your child is not adding any weight at all, then this pre-supposes that you weigh her regularly. To do a quick calculation of your baby’s ideal weight from ages 1 year to 5 years, multiply her age in years by 2 and add 8 (2n + 8). So, your baby’s ideal weight should be about 12kg. But the question is, is she adding weight monthly but perhaps not up to the expected? Not gaining weight at all, is a major health issue that actually goes beyond eating. If she adds weight but not up to what is expected, the problem may be with not getting enough nutrients, either in quality or quantity. Please see her paediatrician to be sure you’re not just being overly anxious as all mothers worldwide, from the beginning of time, have been known to be 😀
Remember that to help the process of growth, your baby should get enough sleep (especially an afternoon nap) and some exercise/playtime (at least 30 minutes per day).
Enjoy the rest of your day!
Here’s to a healthier you!