Question: My child refuses to eat. His appetite has gone down and it is a struggle to feed him. He also does not want to drink milk. What can I do to make him eat again?
Answer: Many children go through a phase whereby they refuse to eat or drink milk. The good news is the majority of these children remain healthy and will outgrow this phase. It is important to remember to make feeding time enjoyable and stress-free. When you offer your child food at the dining table, do it in a matter-of-fact way. If she eats the food, do not praise her excessively.
If she refuses, do not make it a big issue. Some children can get put off by the tension at the dining table, and this will worsen the feeding difficulty. Be patient. Your efforts will pay off eventually.
You can also try to engage your child in helping to choose what she wants to eat. Give her a few food choices and let her decide what she wants to eat. If your child is older, you can even involve her in the food preparation. You may find that she is more willing to eat the food she has chosen or helped to prepare.
Eat together as a family. Children are great imitators of adults. Set a good example by having good eating habits. When they see everyone eating food from the table, they may be keen to try as well.
Resist giving in to junk food even if your child refused to eat at her mealtime. Some parents are so worried about their child not eating that they give in to junk food. With time, the fussy eater will learn that if she does not take her meal, her favourite snack will be offered to her.
Dr Goh Siok Ying