Are you having anxious moments during mealtimes feeding your toddler? Do not worry. Most of the parents go through this trying time. You just need to have ample patience to handle your picky eater.
Generally, the majority of toddlers have picky eating habits. When toddlers gain weight, their appetite begins to slow down. They feel hungry depending on their growth and activity. Also, your toddler wants his independence and probably that is the reason he is choosy about his food.
Not only is your toddler fussy but also he starts making weird choices. For a week or two, your toddler may start insisting on one or two favorite foods and nothing else. Or sometimes your toddler may insist on having the food which he used to cold-shoulder earlier. You could feel uneasy and nervous about your toddler’s strange behavior. But you have to just unwind yourself. Make your toddler accessible to all the healthy food options and gradually with time your child will probably enjoy a wide variety of foods.
Fussy eating is usually seen in toddlers between one and five years old. Most kids do grow out of selective eating habits while some don’t. Here are some suggestions to help parents handle their child’s picky eating stage:
Make sure your toddler is energetic throughout the day so that he craves for food during his mealtimes. Keep a difference of at least three hours so that your child feels very hungry when he has his food.
Offer Small Portions
Toddlers enjoy eating small portions of food. After your toddler finishes the food, applaud your little one, and serve the next portion. Avoid giving your child big servings as it could be distressing and the toddler might lose the appetite.
Appeal to Toddler’s Taste Buds
After a mealtime, offer your toddler a nutritious dessert such as fruits, banana cookies, baked apples, strawberries mixed with yogurt, and others. Your toddler will enjoy eating varieties of new foods served at every meal besides receiving calories and nutrients. Occasionally, you could also plan to take your toddler to beaches, parks, picnics, or restaurants and indulge him with some healthy snacks that he likes.
Let Alone Pressurise
At times your toddler may be refusing to eat as he had a heavy breakfast or lunch. In such circumstances, avoid consistent coaxing as your toddler may not be hungry. Do not force your toddler to finish all the food on his plate. Once your toddler finishes the food, do not spoon-feed him further. This would make the toddler more nervous and the little one would end up eating more food than required.
Avoid tempting your child with desserts or treats instead of eating other foods. Your toddler will always crave for the sweet course than the healthier ones. As he grows, your toddler is less likely to enjoy healthier foods. The child may yearn for the special food always but do stay away from alluring your toddler.
Try to offer new food to your child again and again. Also, try to offer the foods that the child disliked before. You may have to make numerous efforts before a child’s taste bud finally accepts it.
Never offer your toddler his favorite food if he is refusing to eat new food. Instead, try to offer a portion of your food to his plate. He may eat some and abandon some. But that’s okay. Always offer food that your child likes in every meal.
Diverse Food with Unusual Flavours
Try to offer a variety of foods to your child with different new flavors, herbs, and spices. You can start giving new food to your toddler in small quantities that include a variety of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, spinach, meatballs, and deboned fish at least 2-3 times per week. Try to serve foods that your toddler dislikes, sour and bitter with the food that the little one prefers, sweet and salty. For instance, you can try to mix grated cheese with mashed chickpeas, veggie-loaded hummus, fresh-cut veggies, potato wedges, broccoli, soft lentils mixed with spinach or capsicum with which your little one would enjoy the most in every meal.
After your toddler begins to enjoy the meal, you can start introducing varieties of similar color and texture. For instance, if your child likes carrot pie, then you can offer steamed apple pie, mashed sweet potatoes, or mashed beetroot in the meal of your child.
Offering Snacks or Juices
Try not to give snacks, fruit juices, or milk during meal times or in the hour before a meal as your toddler will be too full to have his lunch or dinner. Try to keep a scheduled mealtime so that your child can enjoy the new food given to him.
Tiny and Colourful
Provide the foods to the kids in colorful attractive tiny shapes and sizes so that your little one can easily gulp those pieces. Kids love fried finger foods, meatballs, or vegetable cutlets with a dip. Your toddler might insist on eating those foods with his own hands. Allow him to do so as he might deeply enjoy the process.
Some kids are simply stubborn and insist on deciding the food menu on their plate, the cucumber slices here, or the sweet yogurt there. You can also allow your toddler to do so.
Make Kids Chefs
Your toddler could assist you in tiny kitchen tasks like adding ingredients, applying butter on bread, collecting fresh herbs from the garden, crumbling biscuits for cake, blending ingredients, making round cookies which your child could indulge in with his tiny hands. Your toddler would happily eat those foods when served.
Take your kids to the grocery store or supermarket and involve them in food shopping. Let your toddler help you find foodstuffs. Allow your toddler to choose his favorite fruit and vegetables that he would like to have during his mealtime. Arranging tables with your toddler or showing pictures of vegetables in the book will further boost his interest in food.
Occasionally, try to invite your toddlers’ nursery or neighborhood friends to your home so that your toddler can enjoy having food with them. Your toddler will learn to eat looking at his friends and attempt new foods.
Make mealtimes peaceful and free of interruptions from phones, television, house-pets, playing with toys, or cell phones. Else, your toddler will find it difficult to complete his food.
A Set Pattern
Follow a daily routine mealtime pattern to suit your toddler’s daytime naps. In a day, a child should have at least three meals and two or three wholesome snacks. Toddlers enjoy consistent mealtimes and look forward to those healthy refreshments. If you are not present at home, you can ask other family members to follow your schedule.
If your toddler is too tired, he may refuse to eat. At that time, try to give your toddler a small snack or drink before sleep. You can conserve his meals and feed your little one later.
Having Meals Together
Try to enjoy mealtimes with your toddler as often as possible. While having a meal together, resist the urge to provide diverse food to your child even if the little one insists as this will only support fussy eating. Always try to provide at least one healthy, favorite food to your toddler in every meal.
Always tell your toddler that you are immensely enjoying the food you are eating. Your enthusiasm may encourage your toddler to try the food once again though he may detest veggies or sprouts. Always remind your toddler that you are very happy whenever he eats well. Your words of praise may encourage your toddler to eat healthy food well. If the child is unable to finish his food just quietly take his plate away. Be positive and agree to the reality that your toddler had a sufficient amount of food.
Your toddler is fussy about eating his food probably because he is not hungry. You will know that your toddler’s stomach is full when he is refusing to open his mouth, shaking his head to food, shoving away the food plate, vehemently refusing to chew, descending from the armchair, protesting, or spewing out the food. Do not insist on feeding your toddler after his stomach is full. Your kid will probably have it in the next meal or snack time.
It is not easy to cope with the toddler’s fussy eating habits. You would think that a refusal is permanent. But your toddler’s taste change with time, If your toddler’ dislikes a particular food today he may like it in the future. Some toddlers need to be coaxed between 10 to 15 times before they feel convinced to try it.
Try to keep mealtimes positive and stress-free. Do not panic if your mealtime schedules get disrupted. Just be positive. Your toddler is probably discovering new tastes and feel of the food. Give your toddler some time, and he will soon come out of this fussy stage.
Fussy eating is a normal phase for toddlers. Maintain a chart of all the food that your toddler has eaten over the last week. See to it that the meals contain all the required carbohydrates, nutrients, proteins, dairy products, meat products, fruits, lentils, vegetables, and all the necessary vitamins and minerals. You have to try your best to introduce healthy eating habits to your child. Check your toddler’s height and weight regularly. Always consult your pediatrician to see to it that your child’s diet has all the necessary nutrients and vitamins.