7 Ways To Prevent Your Child From Eating Non-Food Items
Hello lovely mommies out there! I hope you are enjoying motherhood to the fullest. It is a wonderful feeling to have a pair of innocent eyes...
1. Make Different Textures Available To Kids
Exploring is a part of growing up. Between the ages 6 months to 2 years, toddlers undergo the oral stage, when feeling textures happen through the mouth. It is not uncommon to see babies putting mud, grass, dry leaves etc. in their mouth while crawling in a park. This is because they are exploring new textures and are excited by them. Mothers need to introduce new textures in their food as well. A creamy avocado paste, a crunchy piece of bread crumble, a tangy slice of strawberry will all add to the various textures your baby will feel excited about. So keep exploring textures yourself and provide your little one with something new every now and then, to grow her interest in actual food, thereby preventing the ingestion of non-food items.
2. Be Aware Of Group Behaviour
Pre-schoolers often learn by imitation. Outside the house, their peer group become their source for imitation. Just because some popular kid in school eats chalk or paper, your kid may also get into the habit of doing so. Ask your kid where they saw someone do this. Ask questions to understand if your kid is picking this habit from kids in school, or in other playgroups. If you know the root cause, you can help them get rid of this habit easily.
3. Teach The Difference Between Food & Non-Food
Kids do not always understand the difference between food and food like items. As they are sometimes confused about whether something is food or not, they tend to put it in their mouths to understand what it is. Kids may end up eating crayons, play dough etc., because they have appealing scents. Show pictures to your children and make them understand and differentiate between food and non-food items. Make a face and say no to non-food things, while make a slurp sound and say yes to food.
4. Explain New Food Items
Children love variety and may often get bored to the same food every day. Introduce new food to them every once in a while. Let them touch, feel, smell and see the food before tasting it. Tell them about it, show them pictures and let them see other people in the house eating it too. In this way children will grow an interest in real food, and this will reduce their inclination towards eating non-food items.
5. Understand Hunger Cue
Rare are the occasions, when a toddler actually says that he/she is hungry. At their age, they do not want to spend time eating, when there is so much to do. But when the belly rumbles, kids often eat or chew whatever they find handy. And most of the times, they are non-food items. So understand their hunger cues and offer them a nutritious finger food, so that they don't use non-food items to satiate themselves.
6. Patience Is The Key
No matter how innovative you are at cooking up the most delicious food for your little ones, it is natural for toddlers to refuse it and head straight for the non-food stuff. You have to be very patient and stop the little one from ingesting it. Sometimes, kids learn quickly, or are at least put off by the taste of non-food things. But sometimes, they refuse to give up. As mothers, this can be very irritating and troublesome. But patience and constant vigilance will help you sail through this tough period of your little one's growing years.
7. Seek Medical Aid In Case Of Pica
Pica is a condition where children eat only non-food items like chalk, mud, dirt, and even glass. Children suffering from pica refuse to eat any food and for prolonged periods eat only non-food things. This can be due to developmental problems or dietary malfunctioning of the physical system of the child. There are ways to treat this condition and medical experts should be consulted for treatment.
There is nothing wrong in your child eating a few non-food items now and then. Keep inculcating good habits, and reinforcing good behavior. It may take some time for children to learn the right things to eat. But if it is persistent for a really long time, see a doctor. Follow the tips mentioned to prevent your tiny tot from eating non-food items.
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Contributed By: Kriti Mazumdar