Let me warn you that its a very looong post …I have tried to make it exhaustive… from one mother to another 🙂
My background :
I shifted to USA from India 2 years back… I have a son 5 years old who embodies the definition of PICKY EATER … He eats only white rice, white mac and cheese, white plain dosa, white noodles and white cheese pizza to the extent that he used to ask us to remove the red sauce from the pizza ! As an infant he did not eat any khichdi or dal rice if he saw a black thing whether its jeera or rai !
He proudly says I don’t like Indian food to my horrified face …. I know that I made him like that to some extent ….This is how…
- I used to trick him into eating…. distract with toys and books..sometimes tv… shove spoonfuls of dal rice in his mouth when he wasn’t looking
- When he said his stomach is full I pushed him to have one more morsel
- I used to hate his meal time because it was battle time … now I realise he hated it too…
- I played with him only during meal times so he wanted to extend the meal time…
- The responsibility of feeding him was always mine… I used whatever I could to put food in his stomach to the extent that I scared him with wolves and policemen to get him to eat !
- I had enough and more number of people in India telling me that I was not doing enough…. your son looks patla (thin) …. he looks dull…
Now, I have a daughter who is 10 months old and I decided to feed her the American way… You know whats the result ?… As of now.,..she eats every damn food…and I hope it continues… this is what I did
- Food is not a big issue any more… I have already seen the worst… So she eats at meal time which is generally a gap of 3 hours..basically when I know she is hungry or when I put her in her high chair and she doesn’t protest….
- I give her morsels from my plate in her high chair table which she eats on her own…she eats in the real Ayurvedic way (https://enjoyingyourkids.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/how-i-feed-my-daughter-10-months-old-in-ayurvedic-style/) of exploring the texture, color, smell, taste and eating at peace without anyone staring down her shoulder…. When she stops eating and starts throwing, I stop giving her the bites…
- I let her mash the steamed vegetables in her hand ….she makes a huge mess but I know that this is a smaller problem than u know what…..🙂
- I try to give her more food from my plate rather than ready food so she doesn’t grow up thinking she is meant to have different food….
- The responsibility of feeding her is her’s…not mine… my responsibility is only giving her the food….
I have not killed her curiosity about things …I have used it to get her to try new foods….no force feeding at all….
Changes I made with my son now…
- I made peace with the fact that he doesn’t like Indian food… He doesn’t even like its aroma… !
- If he eats plain rice so be it… so everyday his lunch is cucumber, plain rice with lots of ghee as he loves ghee and curd….
- If he is playing and I am eating , i ask him to join me… he is busy playing…so I say “do u want to play for 5 min and then join me ?”…he says “no ten min”… So I set the timer for ten minutes and go and start eating…When the timer rings he either joins me or continues playing…I don’t force him to join me.. I eat my food and start doing other work…He comes to me half an hour later as he is hungry… I tell him food is on the table but i am busy so he can help himself….He does that….. But i don’t get him to eat food he does’nt like by keeping him hungry …its always food that he likes…
- For dinner I am changing the dinner to American, Italian, Mexican for all of us…. I am discovering it is much easier…
- I started looking at food as protein, grain, dairy, fruits and veggies and not dal rice etc…. so i try to give him an egg a day for protein, rice for grain, one fruit (generally in a box when he is travelling for any activity) , cucumber in veggies and milk for dairy… this way he is happy and so am I…
- Meal time is relaxed and fun time…not a stress time for anyone…
- The responsibility of feeding him is HIS and not mine… I just give him food options which always include one thing that he likes….
- If he doesn’t want to eat dinner, there is always toast and crackers for him…
- I always try to be well rested because I find I lose my temper over food very easily when i am tired…
Believe me, looking at your child enjoying his food (whatever it is) and relishing it , is a supreme JOY !
Its better to have the wrong food with the right attitude rather than the right food with the wrong attitude..
Do share this with people who can learn from my experience…
I will love to know your views too…
Till then Enjoy your child… 🙂
166 thoughts on “Why many American kids eat while Indian kids are picky eaters…”
Not really same with all kids, i fed my child the indian way until he was 2 and then he would join me later with my plate to grab few bites…he is 6 now and he eats everything(including the toughest…brinjal)..be it any cuisine..
Loved your post and your ideas. I feel that the best time to shape your child’s food habits is when your child starts eating solid food at 7-8 months. Once that window is gone, it gets tougher – mind you, not impossible – to change them. Then the next chance comes when they are of an age when they can understand your explanation of food and are old enough to explore flavours and understand them. Why you need to eat what we are feeding you? How else can I make this interesting for you?
Anyway, my daughter, now 5, is a picky eater. And the pain is that she still has to be hand fed. There have been half hearted attempts to let her eat on her own, but later the attempts died down.
Now I am totally inspired by your post to retry changing my daughter’s food habits. And prepare to shape my younger son’s food habits. 😊
A 5 year old not knowing how to EAT by herself would be considered RETARDED by U.S. standards. Every baby book here says a kid should be fully independent with food by 2 years old! Stop feeding your daughter and whatever she eats on her own, accept it. She might eat much less at first but when you stop pressurizing her to eat more and making food seem like a “punishment” or “chore” and let her have control, she’ll eventually eat more.
My daughter is 4 and has been fully independent with food since 16 months. I am an ABCD and my husband was raised in India. My daughter loves mealtime and whether she eats 2 bites or an entire adult sized serving, amount is not an issue. Her love for food is far more rewarding.
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Retarded? Really? These mums are opening their hearts to the rest of us as a gesture of good faith. That if nobody else a fellow mum would understand. She’s already said that she’s going to begin working on her 5 yr old food attitude. What you said has zero positivity! All i hear is a whole lot of I, with some good old prejudice! And just for the record, American standards have never been too high.
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I agree with you. My son is born in US and until 1 yr he ate whatever I gave him and later he started eating on his own but was my fault as I started feeding him to ensure he eats more ;(. Now he is 3yrs old and we are in India for an year and he totally refuses to eat on his own and he hates fruits any fruits …so we tried the self feeding mechanism with him where he refused to eat for few days and then started eating little but with that he lost all his weight and became looking like a skeleton…he use to eat like 10 percent of the food and the rest he would rely on chocolates or get whiney coz he was hungry and be behind me asking for candy and chocolates …I could not take it longer …I would have tried it for almost 2.5 to 3 months and I gave up and started feeding him again. But as your said I am going through the phase where he eats watching TV or playing and would take 45 min to 1 hour to eat his food. I am reluctant to try self eating again but I guess I have to give it a try before he starts hating Indian food. Your blog has given me some hope. Thank you.
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Very nice post meha..weldone..
But from my experience i will say that eating habit till some points depends on kids too. My 5 year son was borm in india n when i started solid food he loved all fruits, juices, salads n vegies. I never gave him any cereal or readymade food but started with light home made food. But my second son who is now 8 month old, i started the same way as with my older kid but he is not eating or liking any thing. He is very eager to taste food but after 2 spoon he turns his head away or tightly closes his mouth, after trying homemade food n fruits for 2 months now i added different cereals also in his food so that i can find what he likes but no success. So he still is on exclusive bf i will say with only 5 to 8 spoon other foods in 24 hours. So having hard time in feeding this time.
So i think its somewhat depends on kids also. Every kid is different and so there eating habits. So more easy to feed my older n more hard for yge younger one
Wow! This looks exactly like ny experience. My 6 yr old son brought up in India then.. n a 10 month old son in Dubai… I chose to do whatever u did with the younger one with a determination I am not getting influenced by anyone who comments on his health! A great lesson learnt! Good luck!
Your article has people arguing I see and that’s a good thing. I do agree with your methodology but have an issue with your title. I don’t believe it’s a Indian vs American kid thing. I think it’s a each kid is different thing. Plus by the second kid we are more experienced and busy so willing to let things go at not being perfect.
I also vehemently disagree with one of the commentors that the mother is at fault if the kid is not eating all foods. Each kid is diff. As a first time mom everyone tries their best to do what EVERY one says and then ends up most frustrated. That’s unnecessary burden on them.
I too had people tell me my first kid should eat like this or like that. But fact is no matter what I have tried he is a picky eater. With him I realize the problem was that he NEVER slept at night thus he spent all morning sleeping till almost 1 year of age. WIth my daughter she spends days awake so is more curious about what her family is putting in their mouths.
I applaud you though for sharing your experience so nicely with us all here. I will surely be coming back for me. Hope to hear from you about your take on my comment.
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PS – As with God mother proposes, kid disposes. So all we can do is try our best to do right by them. Nothing is a 100% guaranteed.
Lame. If you can’t make your kids eat Indian food, who else will?
The only reason is that you seem to have given them an alternative.
If your kids where to grow in India, would you have the alternative of giving Italian & Mexican food?
This is what I choose to cook for the family, this is what everybody gets. Grow over it. No toast or crackers. The first time you remove the mustard from the dhal, you are paving the path to an alternative. Say no. Say I’m not doing it. The answer is ‘NO’ from day one.
Before you know it, you will be instructing your mom to buy & keep pasta ready for his trip to India.
Before you know it, you will be making less & less Indian food. And you wouldn’t have any Indian lunch box ideas & resort to making sandwiches.
Diwali will be just another day “Anyways my kids wont eat all the Indian sweets & savories, so I didn’t make any.”
I cook all kinds of cuisines. I’m not against other cuisines, but not over your own food. Don’t be shy of serving what you grew up eating.
Rice is just a carbohydrate, it is just a vehicle for the veggies, curries & dhals. That by itself, can be of no good.
It is really difficult falling into a good practice. It is even harder to break a bad habit. When your son gets used to eating white rice & ghee, how are you going to break that habit. Start doing the right thing from day one.
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I completely agree with you! I just cannot understand why it is so difficult for moms to cultivate good habits from early childhood. I have three kids and all eat what is served to them, I make all kinds of cuisines and had no problem what so ever.
As you said how is she going to break the habit of her son eating only rice and ghee?
While some of the points make sense like giving food to kids to eat on themselves, stop force feed etc, I am not impressed with the way you have compared India vs US. There is no point trying to prove that US way of feeding is better than India. I am not even saying, Indian way is better. In fact there is no country oriented way of feeding. Also, kids sit on a high chair or a chatai (mat) makes no difference. It is the mood which reflects their food and eating pattern at a moment.
I am not happy to say, my daughter is fussy eater. She used to eat almost all foods until she turned 2.5 years. afterwards, something crazy happened and she became picky. She would eat plain rice one day and then love plain chapati the other day. of course, who does not love pizza pasta. My daughter loves pakoda too, and so does dosa. So, I feel, we should inculcate good eating habit rather than figuring out, India or US method. And, there is no substitute for nutrients, so better give 4-5 spoons of good food rather than a whole burger. And please, the title of the post is not at all welcoming.
Please explain why so many Desi moms have “food battles” with their kids with the number one complaint being how much time it takes to feed their kids which they need to district, bribe, threaten, etc.?
Those problems are non-existent among American parents barring some medical problem. I am an ABCD stay at home mom and my mommy’s group is mostly U.S. raised of different ethnic groups (mostly Caucasian, but also a few U.S. raised Asians and one Latino lady). NONE of us have a hard time feeding our kids. All of them were eating on their own at 1 year of age. We provide the children the food and set it before them and let the CHILD decide how much they want to eat. Not the mom. I also NEVER force any food she doesn’t like on her. I provide her with 2 or 3 healthy choices and whatever she eats, she eats. She enjoys mealtimes and wakes up on her own between 6:30 and 7AM ASKING for breakfast. I start the bedtime routine at 8PM on school nights (she’s fast sleep by 8:30) with dinnertime at 6PM, sit at the table and eat for half an hour and then no food afterwards.
In contrast, when we hang out with other Indian families (my hubby was raised in India), I often see mothers hand feeding their 3-8 year olds! Running behind them as they play with other kids, distracting them with TV, video games, shouting, bribing, etc. They keep their kids up as late as 11PM on SCHOOL NIGHTS running behind them feeding them dinner for 3 hours and wonder why they have such a hard time waking their kid up, let alone “force feeding” them breakfast
The “Desi” way of force feeding leads to food aversion, constant battles between mother and child, etc. Desi moms love to compare academic achievements of their kids: reading, learning times tables at a young age, etc. But they don’t see the irony of the fact that most American kids completely master self feeding by 18 months while they’re still hand feeding their 6 year olds! That would be considered major retardation if a 6 year cannot do something that comes easily to the “average” 2 year old. In India, they believe that a 4 year old has the motor skills to write in cursive and the cognitive skills to read and learn addition and subtraction facts but not the motor and cognitive skills to pick up food and put it in their mouths to satisfy their hunger. Talk about messed up priorities! Picking up a piece of bread and putting it in your mouth is a LOT easier than writing rows of math sums on paper!
I been living in the US for 24 years now. We have three kids. They are all much older than your kids. By the tender age of 2, we were able get all three of them to not just eat but enjoy a variety of foods including kale and many other healthy salads. One thing that made sure was not to give them any screen time before they turned two and no screen time while eating. That rule of no screen time during meals is still the rule I our house…….even for adults 🙂
Appetite, taste and eating habits are not innate but learned behaviors. My youngest is 9 and he loves eating salads as a whole meal for dinner.
Thanks for sharing your perspective. Best wishes for you and your family.
There is nothing like American kids and Indian kids. Actually they are adapting our customs and tradition which is the healthiest one.
Also, in India there is a wrong thought among people that kids are healthy only when they are looking chubby and fat. But when you take USA it is the other way. They encourage kids to be thin and healthy.
Even when we were kids, our mom and dad didn’t run behind feeding us and giving ample time for watching tv. So, it’s only during our generation we broke that mark and came with a thought of imposing “more care”on our kids and torturing them to make them eat and reach that age appropriate weight. That’s useless actually.
Kids are kids. We should learn to respect their thoughts as parents.
Abhi meri shaadi to nahin hui, par aapki baat azmaunga zarur, waqt aane par
Reblogged this on Healthy Yummy Foodie.
I would like to share with you my article, inspired from yours. I re iterate I deeply admire your efforts in writing AND with your children . I have an issue with you stating that any way of parenting is better in any way. http://aditi.ws/outlook/2015/02/10/mother-proposes-child-disposes-picky-eating/
Great article! However, I truly believe introducing foods to children should be devoid of any anxiety. It should be a joyful thing. And each child’s personality is different. Also the serving size for a toddler is a lot less. Mothers always think that the kids should eat more !!! That’s the reason for this so called ‘ struggle’. Both my children were born in the US. And I fed them until they were able to eat undependently…maybe 3 or 4. I only gave Indian food as I never was a.big fan of pasta or pizza..unless made from scratch :). My children all types of cuisine…yes they do have their preferences – that’s doesn’t make them picky eaters! And a child can never be ‘thin’ as some people claim. Just follow the growth curve!!! Honestly a child should be taught to eat healthy from the get go. Great mix of fruits vegetables grains dairy etc. And they should experience all kinds of cuisine. My son in 18 in college now…guess what he craves? Simple dhal and rice. My daughter is 15. Guess what her comfort food is – rasa rice :). They both are differently as young children. True I let them decide when they were done. Never forced them to eat more. There is. I American or Indian way that I am able to differentiate. I am a Pediatrician and yet to see a child who is malnourished because they didn’t eat enough – unless of course they didn’t have access to food.
Hi there, Great post !! This sounds like you read my mind. Your elder son and younger daughter are true replica of my kids. But i have a question if you dont mind answering.
I also give my 17 month old daughter food at the intervals of 3 hrs…she has small appetite and she still refuses to take even a single bite of anything even after 3-4 hours. Even if she tries, she is done after maximum 4 spoons of ANYTHING. Other than these few sppons of solid foods, in all she drinks 18 oz milk in 24 hours. So inbetween these 3 hrs of solid food, I have to give her milk 4 oz only otherwise her milk intake will also drop to 10 oz/day. (I do not force feed her , but i sometimes try to distract her with some toys or rhymes so that atleast she tries to taste the new food but most of it is useless )
so my question is what is your daughters typical schedule. I think she is way younger than mine but still I am very confused what to do. should i keep offering her 4 spoons of verity food every 30 minutes or should i just give up and give her next bottle of milk.
her non eating behavior makes me very depressed
Hi Stuti, I have written my next blog for you…Hope it helps .. https://enjoyingyourkids.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/how-i-feed-my-daughter-10-months-old-in-ayurvedic-style/
I am completely against this post which makes kids picky eater (indirectly supporting their tendency to picky eat rather than correcting it).. in olden days, here in India, since we are many brothers and sisters, parents will not do all such non sense.. u eat or u starve, that’s it… that has brought in some kind of self-care and a self discipline and also shaped them to adapt to any condition, in short increasing their survival Chance.. Make them starve, they will come to eat.. same technique i have used on my kids, now they eat anything available with no inhibitions though they have the personal preferences, likes & dislikes
FORCE FEEDING does NOT lead to the desired weight gain in the child but leads to the child throwing up and even more food aversion so the child doesn’t even want to eat when they feel hungry. It’s cyclical. They become more malnourished and the parents force feed them more. If you do not start the pattern of force feeding, they will eat at least something willingly even if it might not be as much as you’d like.
I love my daughter WAY TOO MUCH to use food to torture her. Food should be pleasurable, not painful.
Loved your post! Well written…
Your first part comments are exactly like mine. While reading those comments I laughed a lot bcoz I too did the same. People are always ready to blame others without seeing how they are struggling to feed their kids.. I realized tat and started ignoring tat kind of people. anyway thnx for sharing this. 🙂
Everybody learn from own experiences. What I noticed is that the first kid is the most of the time fussy eater because the mothers are learning and experimenting how to feed the child. By the time 2nd one arrives you know what and how.
Another observation is that Indian parents try to grind the food and spoon feed even the kid is well beyond the age to start eating solid food with their little tooth. That also distracting the kids with television, toys or even running after them over the house. We miss to train them to differentiate the food time and play time, dining area and leisure / play area.
One interesting observation I made seeing my in laws (Arab origin) that they allow the kids to have the taste of what ever adults eating from 4 months old on wards, yes when they were ready to have food other than breast milk, by allowing to lick the mother’s finger dipped in the sauce / soup / gravy. By the time kids are ready to eat solid food gave them tiny pieces in the mouth and then slowly introduce soft foods like bread, cucumber, banana, etc in hand so that they could explore and enjoy eating. Once kids were ready to hold the spoon properly, food were served in bowl/plate at respective dining area (child feeding chair / dining table with child high chair / in the floor mat). The mess they made were nothing when compared to the healthy eating habits they developed.
I think I know how to feed the kids NOW (No Other Way!!)
Thank u seems so informative…I will try it with my daughter she makes me dread meals n the percentage she eats is as important as exam results…
First of all the title u hv chosen is not relevant. And then All kids are not same. You have to use different ideas and trick to feed them.Americans also feed their babies with spoons.I hv 6 months old baby and i feed him veggies, fruits and daal rice with spoon and he eats everything. Once kids are 10 11 months then only they will start eating liitle from your plate. You have to prepare separate food for them.Infact sometimes u hv to feed a 2-3 yr baby also.
It just occurred to me to let you know that cucumber is supposed to be a negative calorie food.. Which means, it needs our body more calories to digest it than the calories obtained out of cucumber itself. So if you child is constantly eating cucumber, weight gain might be an issue. I have myself tested cucumber when i m trying to lose weight. Cucumbers are filling( contain mostly water) and take time to digest for most people, and help to lose weight.
Kudos on a well written article.I grew up away from India and what I’ve noticed is that we tend to cling to our food habits ,traditions and customs more when we live away from our country.Our insecurities ?
My husband was born and raised in India ,and grew up on a staple diet of only Indian food now when we travel overseas its a nightmare looking out for Indian food.Diversify your child’s palate while you can.Encourage them to try different food but you cant force them,remember they are small but have a personality as well as taste of their own …that dosent automatically classify them as “picky eaters”
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nice post, enjoyed reading it. regards http://YourWellWisherProgram.wordpress.com
I loved your post. Thank God my son who’s now at 1.5 years eats almost anything when he’s hungry. To an extend I have also followed your rules for the daughter maybe that’s the reason. Never forced him to eat anything.
Though there’s something that I didn’t follow. I used to always feed him with my hands and he’s become too dependent on it. He thinks its my duty to feed him a never ever feeds himself. If he takes any food in his hands he tries to feed his daddy and mommy! I attribute that mistake to my style or how I made him think that way. After reading this post, I am happy I didn’t make my son hate food. But partly unhappy that I didn’t teach him to eat himself.
Loved your post.
I totally agree with you. My kid is comparatively thin as his birth weight was low, but his pediatrician is okay with it. We are now in India and as u mentioned always getting tips from everyone on how to make him fat. Anything less than fat and chubby is considered as a result of irresponsible mother. Back in Usa he used to eat everything and we always used to have a happy meal time. Now v r in India & kid immediately became a picky eater. Now everyone advising me to force or trick him to eat all the ghee, butter, curd etc.
Awesome Article…I am doing exactly what you are following for your daughter… Your article gave me confidence that I am right..
While the article looks interesting for mothers-who-are-struggling-to-feed-their-child, I think the author herself has made some costly mistakes with her first child
a. force feeding the child
b. to push in more than necessary
c. not playing with the child at other times
(she labels her mistakes as the ‘Indian way’..that’s absurd!!).
She has also not mentioned about other vital rhythms for the child like is the child getting his 12 hour golden sleep? Does he get too much TV/screen time? junk food/inbetween meals? and most importantly care and attention of the parents?
Its a known fact that a child shows his rebellion due to various reasons by ‘refusing to eat’…the adult needs to do some soul searching and course correction and not just be ‘happy’ and ‘off-hand’ with the child eating only white stuff! Expecting a 5 year old to make the right food choices is ridiculous! The American way as propagated here is just a short term gain i believe!
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This is a very harsh and judgemental reply to someone who is trying to constantly improve as a parent… and willing to try new things. ANd most of all, be transparent so others can benefit it.
I stand by her “Indian” and “American” simplifications.
In fact, the “Indian” stubbornness and impolite self-righteousness is more troublesome than a kid who won’t eat. I worry for the kids of such parents…
You are an incredibly intuitive parent and very articulate… Would love to keep hearing ffrom you
Hi, great article. I’ve a 3 year old whose love of life is daal roti. He wants daal roti day in day out. Up until now I would be happy to let him eat whatever but now it’s time he ate whatever was offered. So my rule: if he refuses to eat dinner/lunch I take away his plate from the table and ask him to either sleep (if night) or play (if lunch).
He has had days when he has been stubborn and stayed hungry. My reaction: his choice.
We live in Melbourne and I’ve another 12 week old so this works for me. I cry in my bedroom whenever he goes hungry but I never give a hint to him that it bothers me.
U r so lucky he eats daal roti … I wonder if u were in his place craving your daal roti and your mom said No try something new today or go hungry … Am feeling sad because I know if my son enjoyed dal roti I would b the happiest mom on earth ! Y do v make our lives so difficult ….
While I read through your post, I perceived it to be an experience of an individual family with 2 kids and their morphing styles as they grow up or adjust to their food, environment and individual personality.
Not sure if I agree with the title here after reading your story. Didn’t really have anything to do with India vs. kids born in US. Could happen and does happen to any family, any kid, any nationality. These are just habits based on evolving tastes of a baby, time and attention provided by both mom and DAD ( I am a dad and spend a lot of time with my wife on my kid who eats paranthas, dosas, rice, pizza, turkey etc.). Also, enrolling a kid in a daycare is helpful as watching other peers eat will inculcate discipline and herd behavior when it comes to food habits.
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Hey ladies, I partly agree with what you have said But not completely! . Let me give my background, I am a Indian origin mum of 5 year old daughter and 2year old son, settled in the West and I work 4 days a week . I firmly believe that other than good human values and education , good nutrition is the most important thing you give your child in their early years , If the child is able to eat independently well and good (both of mine do) however it is not wrong in spoon feeding a child and pushing the right kind of nutrients let they be eastern/western….because it is the single most important thing for a less than 5 year old … the trick is in finding the time / patience and persistence and letting them go once in a while ….ultimately some kids eat better than others. In my view just a food maker and giver wouldn’t be enough for a picky eater!! I would insist you spoon feed them for as long as they eat and once they feel full stop !
many kids I know have been spoon fed for 8 years!! They are fully grown adults now and eat a healthy balanced food and have been high achievers as well, so don’t worry if you child is being spoon fed, you know what is best for your kid!!
I In America, it’s considered just plain odd to physically feed a child over 2, yet American kids are far better eaters and enjoy their food far more than most Desi kids in general. Spoon feeding leads to overfeeding and food hatred when you “force” a kid to eat more than they feel like. If a kid stops after 3 or 4 spoonfuls, so be it. They will feel hungry later and come back for more. I’ve seen Desi kids be force feed an entire bowl to throw up shortly afterwards and then all that food goes to waste and the child doesn’t absorb the intended nutrition. Kids should be able to control how much they eat. Spoon feeding a child who has the motor skills to feed themselves is just another way of overfeeding, force-feeding, or trying to control the kid’s intake. Vomiting is the body’s natural way of reacting to this.
Wow. This is my story too.
Well written article. My experience: Every kid is different, there is no one general rule that applies to all. But in my opinion, it is always better to have a practice of eating what we traditionallly cook, Indian in this context. I am in U.S., I do not want my kids growing up having a dislike to Indian food. My 9 yr old loves all American (pizza, burgers) but we make it a point to let him have that only for a treat for good work and behavior at school. And he helps me in the kitchen with cooking, be it Indian or American.
My toddler who is 2 and a half is ‘picky’ as mentioned here, he prefers American too, but as I said, he gets it only when his brother gets. So he eats when he is hungry and not when I decide to feed him. I sometimes feel sorry that I had my lunch when he is starving, only to find him asking for food in some time. And not stocking up on junk food (sugar loaded snacks) really matters when it comes to not eating what we offer as they will be naturally inclined to those!
I forgot to mention that my toddler looks ‘thin’ and I often hear people saying he has become more thin than the last time, but I am happy as long as he is healthy!
good one.. when I came to US and made my son eat only in the highchair and no TV while eating …it always works….
Now my sons proudly says he likes 100s of fruits and veggies ..
He and his sister both start telling the names of the fruit and then say I like it or not then count how many types they like… now also I make sure all eat on the table and no TV. Yes, some times I give exception to watch and eat ..but only some times..
There are many American kids that are “picky” eaters but the American definition of a “picky” eater is a kid that only eats selected foods, not a kid who won’t eat at all! There are also a good number of American kids who love to eat everything but some that will only eat “kiddie foods” such as mac n cheese, PB sandwiches, hot dogs
The difference is most American parents accept their kids preferences and serve them food they like and also accept the portion the kid is willing to eat. It’s that Desi moms will run behind their kid trying to shovel as much food down their throat as possible in any which-way-they-can that turns those kids off to eating all together.
I’ve seen some Desi kids who won’t even eat a cookie or goldfish cracker or anything willingly because they’ve had food forced into their mouths so long that they’ve developed an oral aversion to chewing food itself.
My daughter is 4 and likes most typical American kiddie foods but also likes some Desi foods as well: nann, tandori chicken, ghee, pouri, idli, etc, but doesn’t like dhal. She loves most fruits but the only veggies she really likes are beans and carrots. She doesn’t like broccoli. I can sneak spinach in her ravoli but she won’t eat it alone. My daughter loves sushi which shocks some of my American SAHM friends because they see it as too “exotic” for small kids.
I respect my daughters food preferences and serve her healthy food she likes. I give her sandwiches (both cheese sandwiches and PB and J) with whole wheat bread. I make her mac n cheese out of whole grain pasta and grate some spinach into it.
Another good title would be “Why Many Desi Parents go to such extremes to force feed their kids much of the day while most American Parents accept their children’s food preferences, appetites, and statures as they are unless there is a warranted medical concern.
i liked ur post, but my problem is, my sonnever try new food he eat whatever he is eating earlier.
Read your post.good at some parts….but there are certain places where I can’t totally agree with you..first of all..I personally felt there is no American and indian way of feeding the kids..it’s the food culture. .I undoubtedly says the Indian food culture is the best food culture. .it’s truly a balanced diet.. (if it’s done in a correct way)..secondly..kids are unique. ..u can Google to see the current obesity level of American kids. .there are undernourished kids in the above said America. ..even in India we have obesity under 19 years…so it’s totally upto the parents who take care of kids and who prepares and feed the kid . finally “the picky eater “…means…they will eat any particular kind of food..might be dey won’t complete the food you give. ..sharing of experience is good…but when it comes to the topic of health or education ….make a clear cut idea…so that public will not be getting misinformed.. ..happy parenting …
I am a 31 year old lady. The food habits explained by you for your first child apply TO ME. I am not ashamed of the fact. When I was young, my parents forced me to eat what was cooked at home for everyone. It filled the stomach with solids instead of air. Also, the intake of vegetabes and dal provided adequate immunity. But all along my life, I looked very thin. When I started living on my own, I experimented with foods that I liked and needed. I could not dare to even think of spicy foods let alone tasting a bit of it. Finally I found it is the deficiency of vitamin B that caused me to avoid certain foods. Once that got fixed, I started becoming calm during eating times. 15%-20% of the population has sensitive nerves. So, such kids and adults cant tolerate bright colors (red color sauce), strong aromas (agarbathis), spicy foods (dal with garlic) etc. All five fingers are not the same. This is not a indian versus american thing. Its respect for an individual’s preference. As a mother, please do cook all dals and veggies for your child the way your child wants. If he has aversion to few colors, get he list from him and make sure the final food that you present to him is not of that color. This may sound non-sense to many foolish women who think of it as an additional chore. Motherhood is not for people who like to have sex but want to be responsible for the action post sex.
Thanks for your insights on eating pattern of toddlers. But may I ask you to modify your opinion towards upbringing of children and limit it to yourself rather than taking a blanket assumption that Indian kids don’t eat well.
I am an Indian and none of two children are fussy eaters, they eat whatever I give to them and when I give to them, so definitely that Indian kids don’t eat well fails straight away.
A more appropriate title for your blog will be fussy eaters vs non fussy eaters.
Please don’t blame people’s shortcomings on the country. I don’t think so you have done the appropriate research, you and a handful of your friends in a country of billions of people holds little or no relevance.
I have a quite a few friends from different nationalities whose children are fussy eaters but I don’t see one of them blaming it on there country and I don’t think so we should do it either.
Try the SOS approach to feeding.
The silly internet will make any nonsense go viral. This is ONE person’s opinion, based on ONE data point. And she is trying to present it as “facts!” Hardly has any scientific validity. There’s plenty of picky kids in every culture, as there are good eaters. You want to see picky American kids, I will show you a dozen. You want to see easy to feed Indian kids, there’s plenty of those as well.
Picky eater over here…I am Greek so don’t think it’s a cultural thing. I don’t actually know what my mum did “wrong” back then, but there’s a lot of food that I don’t eat. Until I was 2 (I think) she used to mash everything, when I started eating solids I stopped eating some foods. Like feta for example (which my fellow countrymen adore), but thankfully I’ve met a lot of people who don’t eat feta so I don’t bother. I also don’t like soups (especially lentil soup which is popular in Greece) and beans. I only recently started eating chickpeas and then again not as a soup (that’s the way they cook them in Greece), but in a different way. I’m picky with the texture of the food and using tomato sauce on vegetables. I came to the conclusion that I don’t have an issue with the taste of certain foods but with the way they are cooked. If I don’t like how a dish looks I won’t eat it. My husband tells me that I must incorporate all the things that I don’t eat in my meals so that in the future I can feed my kids as well (because they’ll need the nutrients from lentils for example)! We’ll see…
Hi… its very correct I bribe my 2.6yrs old son for food and his clothing. He hates veg and fruits. But I really want to give a try as you said. Liked your posting
I have a daughter with whom I have already gotten into feeding her in the all the wrong ways..forced feeding..TV while dinner. How can I gradually switch to the ‘American’ way? Do you have any tips? That too without affecting her health too much..
Hi Trupti , this is what I did…. I started him on a gummy bear which is a multivitamin so that I don’t need to worry about the nutrition aspect that much…. Breakfast was easy with my kid because he likes milk , egg and toast… for lunch, traditionally I used to make dal rice , mix them, soften them and then scare him or distract him into eating it….I changed that completely… when it is lunch time, I keep all the food on the table separately not mixed…. He and me sit together… I serve myself… he serves himself…. mostly he chooses cucumber, white rice with lots of ghee, salt and lime… I let him have it at peace… i don’t comment on his choice of food….we talk about non- food related stuff… the only rule is that if he gets up from his chair, that means his lunch is done… I always show him that I am enjoying my food with dal and sabji…. but I don’t force him to try it…when he gets up from the table, I remove his plates and dont ask him to eat more… instead I offer a snack as a mid meal after some time like a fruit ….if he hasn’t eaten lunch properly, he eats the fruit…. I give him something to eat almost every 2 hours as when he is too hungry , he has a meltdown easily….
Same thing for dinner…. The table always has atleast one thing that he eats… So while we enjoy Indian food, I make a quick dish which I know he likes for him separately before hand… Normally I ask him what he will like to eat … I try to get healthier versions of Mac and cheese, pizza , pasta because that is what he likes…. In dinner I make sure he eats because he needs to sleep well… SO if nothing, there is always toast for him to eat …..
Hope this helps… You can ask me specific doubts too and I will try my best to answer them… All the Best… Am glad for you and your child …. Wish you peaceful times ahead…
I am going through same condition.
Now I will tell my family members to not to force by 5 years old son…
So it’s NOT genetic for American kids to eat well and Indian kids to give their parents so much trouble eating? I thought that American kids naturally had big appetites from birth while Indian kids had no appetite until they are around 8 years old.
Your daughter eats like an American baby so it might be parenting style and not genes then.
Interesting article. I do agree with the force feeding part which is never correct but comparing American vs Indian parenting and food styles…hmm not in agreement for sure. If you are raising an Indian origin child eating only food from other cultures then he is not going to appreciate anything in India. India isa country of cultural greatness and the spices & cooking are so decadently delicious .why would you take all that away from your child ? Nothing against Italian or Mexican or even plain old American meat & potatoes but removing Food which is a pretty integral part of India culture away from your India child is just setting him up for falling .How will he every interact with other Indians as he grows up? Almost all of our social interactions revolve around food and the aroma of cooking. You are depriving him of that. Try not to compare the Indian vs American thing. basically american parents are a little more sensible than us Indian moms:) we force our kids to eat like our mothers and grannies tell us instead of being a western parent who puts the plate in front..asks the child to eat and if he/she does not remove the plate. Tough love never hurt a child 🙂