Picky eating is a behaviour when a child refuses eating certain foods, only eats a few types of food repeatedly and is generally reluctant to try new foods. It is often a common trait for young children and something that parents cannot avoid because young children begin to develop their food preferences as they grow older. In fact, up to 50% of children are reported as picky eaters by their parents or main caregivers. NOTICING A PICKY EATER - HOW IT ALL STARTED I am a mother of an 8-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son. Feeding my daughter is easy, and to tell the truth, seeing her gobbling up her food is actually quite a joy, as she would basically eat almost any food that we present to her with gusto. Needless to say, she grows up to be a healthy, tall, and a slightly chubby girl. On the other hand, my 4-year-old son\u2019s eating behaviour is the polar opposite of his sister\u2019s. I first noticed this red flag when my son began eating his solids. When I started my son with pur\u00e9ed vegetables or fruits, and home-cooked porridge, every so often he was not able to finish his food and it took him nearly forever to eat a single serving of food. In the beginning, I assumed this behaviour happened because my son needed some extra time to get used to the variety of flavours and texture of solid foods. However, this scenario went on longer than expected. When he had his first birthday party, his weight was still a single-digit and hovered in the same range for at least few months later. It was as if this boy would never hit the double-digit mark on the weighing scale, while his sister was already 12\u201313kg when she turned one. While my son grows to be an active boy, has a normal height, and hits almost every developmental milestone there is, he is a considerably skinny child. Every time we check his weight during doctor\u2019s monthly visits for his growth checkup or immunisation, his weight would only increase by a few hundred grams \u2013 never went up by a kilogram in a month. Another indicator that my son\u2019s weight was not catching up with his age was when my husband and I realised we had not bought him new clothes for a while as his size remained pretty much the same for a long time. FRUSTRATIONS AND CHALLENGES \u201cMum, just give me the egg white only okay. No egg yolk.\u201d \u201cMummy, I want the noodles only. No chicken or veggies.\u201d \u201cI only want rice and soup.\u201d \u201cEwww\u2026 Fish is so yucky!\u201d \u201cMummy, I saw chicken on my rice, I don\u2019t want this chicken. Grrr!\u201d Once my son was able to communicate with us verbally (he started speaking very early by the way), it was even more obvious when he only requested certain foods that he likes and prefers to only eat those. It is difficult to make him try new food. He carefully examines the food on his plate before opening his mouth for his first bite. If he does not like the menu of the day, he would shake his head, purse his lips, run around or hold his food in his mouth for a long time. He spits out the food that he dislikes if we force it to enter his mouth. Meal times demand a lot of cajoling and almost every meal time with him equals to stress and ultimate patience test for me as it takes at least 30\u201345 minutes for my little man to finish one meal. As a fussy eater, my son could not sleep through the night for nearly three years \u2013 most likely because he did not have enough food during the day and got hungry in the middle of the night. Travelling or eating out with him was not easy either because we needed to make sure we could find a place that sells food that he would likely accept or \u201cthis boy goes hungry\u201d. DOCTOR\u2019S ADVICE One day, I finally raised my worry and frustration about my then toddler\u2019s slow weight gain and weak immune system to his pediatrician as this boy seemed to frequently fall sick. Upon hearing my concerns, the doctor did a more thorough analysis on my son\u2019s weight chart. He asked me about my son\u2019s daily eating habits and eventually run by some ideas to revamp my son\u2019s diets. Further, he prescribed some children multivitamins to increase my son\u2019s appetite and build his immune system. In addition to this, he recommended me to supplement nutritious formula milk as part of my son\u2019s diet as well to ensure he gets complete and balanced nutrition \u2013 which I did follow. WILL PICKY EATING LEAD TO MALNUTRITION? Short and long term nutrient deficiencies, low weight gain and other health problems may occur to picky eater who eats too little and is not getting enough good nutrition. If you are raising a child with a limited eating repertoire, you might be continuously worried that your child is not getting the necessary nutrients needed for his proper growth and optimal development like I did. As such, if you are concerned about your child\u2019s diet and overall growth, it is wise to talk with your paediatrician who can help troubleshoot this problem and ensure your child gets all the necessary nutrients to grow healthily. GOLDEN RULES TO MANAGE YOUR PICKY EATERS While picky eating is often thought to be a typical toddler behaviour, it can be very maddening and causes day-to-day household crisis for parents. Here are some tips from me, a fellow mum with a picky eater; that may help you to go through the picky eater stage without losing your mind. 1. Accept that each child is different Every child has different characters, strengths, and vulnerabilities. Each child requires different types of support from their caretakers to meet their individual needs. In a picky eater situation, understand that some children are just born with heightened sensitivity to taste, smell, and texture. Hence, the fussy eating habits they developed. This said, refrain from punishing your picky eater during meal times or else your child will dread meal times and more meal-time battles will arise. 2. Schedule fixed meal times to encourage appetite Setting regular meal routines is imperative to make sure that your picky eater finishes (most) of his food every day. Try to feed your child three big meals \u2013 plus, one or two snacks a day. Space out his meals or snack times 2\u20133 hours apart. The key here is to avoid giving your child food close to their meal time so that they get hungry during the actual mealtime. 3. Persevere and offer a variety of food Try to offer a variety of food, such as vegetables, fruits, and protein source every day. If your picky eater refuses new food, which is not uncommon, do not give up and try again next time. Moreover, be more flexible with your picky eater\u2019s food choices. For instance, if your choosy eater refuses to eat his greens today, offer some fruits for snacks as a substitute for his dietary fiber source. When he puts his fish chunks on his plate away today, try adding bits of fish on his rice and soup tomorrow. He would not be able to notice that there are fish bits in his rice this way. 4. This too shall pass Although dealing with children with picky-eating behavior is a slow and frustrating process for parents, do your best to patiently guide your child on his path toward healthy eating. So long your child is healthy and growing well, despite him appearing a little skinnier than his peers, you do not have too stress too much about it. Keep in mind that with time, your child\u2019s appetite and eating behaviours will level out, especially once they start entering the school system. 5. Include nutritious milk in his diet Picky eaters often consume less diverse foods and varied diets than their non-picky eater counterparts. To bridge the nutritional gaps that your picky eater may have, include formula milk that is specifically developed for picky eaters into his diet to make sure he gets his day-to-day balanced diet. This way, you will have one less thing to worry too! SUSTAGEN\u00ae FOR YOUR PICKY EATER Did you know that Sustagen\u00ae, with DHA, which is found abundantly in the brain, contains important nutrients found in Food Groups from the Food Pyramid**, such as: \tVitamin B1, B2 & Niacin \tCalcium, Vitamin D, Magnesium \tProtein, DHA, Folic Acid & Zinc Sustagen\u00ae is not just delicious in taste, but also contains essential key nutrients, such as protein, calcium, folic acid, zinc, iron, vitamin A, C and E that meets at least 80% of Malaysia Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI)***. 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