Chew on This

Written By

Chitra Doraiswami

Chew on This Loading

Stop! Hand wringing mothers, desist! Help is at hand. I will tell you how to make your Pattu, Babu, Munna, Munni or any fussy eaters eat. Yes, really. But, you have to listen to me and do as I say. Right? Ok. What your kid needs is a little healthy neglect; yes, you heard right.

I have never, EVER known of a child starving to death in a well-to-do home. Malnourished, maybe but not starved. Think back to your Mom’s time. Or even better, your Grandma’s time. Who had time to fuss about a kid? Certainly not Grandma! She had husband, in-laws and a growing brood of kids to feed and a limited income too. And as much work as you. Something would be made and bunged in front of the kids after the oldies were served and the kids reached out and grabbed if they knew what’s good for them.

Now kids are picky and whiney. The chorus is always, ‘I don’t like this, I don’t want this.’ They will eat only what is shown on TV. Unless you have enough moolah to buy ad space on their favourite show, you can’t get them to eat ‘thair sadam’ or ‘roti sabzi’. So, here’s what you do: offer the breakfast/lunch/ dinner to them with the rest of the family. Ignore whines, you and the rest of the family stoically ignore the kid. Then, once you have finished, just clear up. His/her plate too. No comments, no retorts to ‘ I want this/that’. No biscuits or other snacks are to be in easy reach of the kid. No other food is given till he is ready to eat what is on offer or till the next meal.

Don’t tell me I’m a ‘Hard-Hearted Hannah’. I know this works. But the whole family has to be in on this. Nobody is to show sympathy or irritation and no in-fighting, please. In two days (or sooner) the kid is back on track. Promise.

Don’t tell me your child is different. No kid is. The kid has made a puppet out of you and is playing you. But sensible and give them small portions. I know moms who want a three year old to eat four idlis. What is he, Bakasur?

If you are in the habit of feeding these fussy eaters, stop!  Let them eat on their own. Even babies who can sit up can be given a chappati or a dosa to chew on. They love feeling the texture and checking out the taste and make adorable funny faces. Till they can handle a spoon (only around three or four) let them eat ‘holdable’ food on their own. And… a very important ‘and’, don’t shovel in what is left over on their plates. They hate it and they will punish you by spitting it out or even vomiting out everything. Love cleaning up a mess, do you?

Here’s wishing you happier, stress-free mealtimes with your little ones!




Chitra Doraiswami, 69, is from Bangalore. She has written for many publications such as the Deccan Herald, The Times, Femina, Eve’s Weekly, etc. Chitra has many an interesting tale to tell including the one about finishing her Masters along with her son; sadly “only” getting a First Class, where her son got a rank. She joined CMR, NPS as Headmistress two decades ago and is now known as the Associate Principal of the institution. She also has a sixteen year old grandson. Chitra is an avid dancer, reader and drama-enthusiast. She's traveled extensively with her husband who was in the IAF. She taught wherever they were posted. Chitra enjoys teaching people innovative ways of helping children learn, but she is definitely not the prototypical fluffy grandma!

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