5 prevalent misunderstandings among Indian parents regarding child nutrition

According to a nutritionist, it’s not obligatory for children to consume a glass of milk every day. Explore further insights like this in the article.

5 Common Misconceptions That Indian Parents Have About Child Nutrition
5 Common Misconceptions That Indian Parents Have About Child Nutrition

Proper nutrition is crucial for the development of growing children. However, misconceptions about what foods are suitable or not often make it challenging for parents to ensure their children receive a healthy diet. As nutritional knowledge evolves, it’s important for parents to adapt to these updates and tailor nutrition to their child’s specific needs. What works for one child may not necessarily work for another, and vice versa.

To shed light on this issue, we spoke with Dr. Rohini Patil, a Nutritionist and the Founder/CEO of Nutracy Lifestyle, to identify and debunk five common misconceptions surrounding child nutrition.

Misconception 1: Children must drink a glass of milk daily

Truth: While many parents believe that children should consume milk daily to promote bone and teeth health, it’s important to recognize that milk is not the sole source of essential nutrients for bone health. Some children may simply not enjoy drinking milk, and forcing them to do so may create resistance.

  • Exploring alternative dairy options like cheese, buttermilk, or yogurt can provide similar nutritional benefits.
  • For children who are lactose intolerant, incorporating calcium-rich foods such as fish, soy products, almonds, okra, amaranth, and dark green vegetables can help meet their nutritional needs.
  • Avoiding the addition of sugar or sugary “health drinks” or chocolate powders to milk is essential, as these additives can outweigh the nutritional benefits.

Myth 1: Kids need to have a glass of milk every day

Misconception 2: Children will suffer from starvation if they miss a meal

Truth: Parents often worry that their child will suffer from inadequate nutrition if they skip a meal. While it’s natural for parents to be concerned about their child’s growth and nutrition, skipping one meal occasionally will not significantly impact their long-term health. Understanding why the child is skipping a meal is crucial—it could be due to having a large snack earlier or being engrossed in play. Additionally, children may eat less during certain seasons, such as summer.

  • Most children will compensate for missed meals by eating more at other times, so there’s usually no need for excessive concern.
  • Children’s overall nutrition tends to balance out throughout the day, so as long as they have a varied diet, occasional skipped meals are not cause for alarm.

Misconception 3: Children must consume an egg daily to fulfill their protein needs

Truth: While ensuring our children receive adequate nutrition is paramount, it’s essential to understand that a balanced diet encompasses more than just consuming eggs for protein. While eggs are indeed a valuable protein source, there are numerous alternatives available. Soy, lean meat, milk, beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, and oil seeds are among the many protein-rich options suitable for inclusion in your child’s diet. Therefore, while eggs can contribute to protein intake, they are not the sole solution. It’s important to incorporate a variety of protein sources into your child’s meals to meet their daily requirements.

Misconception 3: Children must consume an egg daily to fulfill their protein needs

Misconception 4: Fruit juice is the healthiest method to provide your child with vitamins

Truth: Despite what advertisements may suggest, fruit juice is not as nutritious as whole fruits. Many fruit juices contain added sugar and artificial colors to enhance their taste and appeal, even if they claim to be free from added sugars. Additionally, the natural sugar content in fruit juice is significantly higher than that found in whole fruits.

Moreover, fruit juices lack the essential pulp and fiber present in whole fruits, making them less filling. As a result, children may consume large quantities of juice without feeling satiated and may still experience hunger shortly after. Therefore, fruit juice should be viewed as an occasional treat rather than a substitute for whole fruits in a child’s diet.

Misconception 5: Children must be bribed to eat healthily

Truth: Resorting to bribery, such as offering chocolate in exchange for eating vegetables, is a common tactic used by parents when children dislike certain foods. However, while this approach may temporarily make vegetables more appealing, it can create unhealthy associations in the long run. Children may come to expect rewards like chocolate every time they eat vegetables, which undermines the goal of fostering a genuine appreciation for healthy foods.

Instead, it’s important to consistently offer children vegetables in various forms and recipes. Involving them in the preparation process, such as allowing them to help cut vegetables into different shapes, can also pique their interest in these colorful foods. Additionally, experimenting with different cooking methods and flavor combinations, such as pairing bitter vegetables like bitter gourd (karela) with sweet and tangy gravies or serving them as side dishes, can make vegetables more palatable and enjoyable for children.

Expert Tip: Steer clear of compulsive eating habits

According to Dr. Susanta Kumar Badatya, Consultant Neonatology & Pediatrics at Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital – Moti Nagar, New Delhi, many parents have a habit of compelling their children to finish the meals they serve, which can lead to compulsive eating habits. This pressure can overwhelm children and cause them to develop aversions to certain foods. It’s important to allow children to explore the textures and tastes of food at their own pace. Forcing them to consume a full portion of a meal should be avoided. Instead, parents should trust their child to indicate when they are hungry or full. This principle applies even to infants, as parents often associate crying with hunger and may overfeed them. It’s essential for parents to recognize that crying can have various causes besides hunger. These practices, although common, may not always be in the child’s best interest.


These are just a few of the prevalent misconceptions parents may hold regarding child nutrition. As highlighted by the nutritionist, it’s crucial to adopt strategies for encouraging healthy eating habits in children without resorting to force. Understanding the underlying reasons behind a child’s refusal to eat certain foods is key, as it could be due to allergies or intolerances as well.