Whilst rejecting certain foods and being picky can be normal for little kids, it can also be a cause of concern and even stress for parents. We worry that they aren’t eating enough, or that they aren’t getting enough of the right nutrients that their little bodies need to grow and develop.
Don’t fret. Here are some practical tips you can use to take the stress out of mealtimes, and ensure that your toddler is getting the nutrition they need.
- Don’t get upset when your child rejects a certain food. (Easier said than done sometimes, we know!) Keep in mind that your child is at the developmental stage where they are learning to flex their independence to see what will happen, and how you will react. Don’t be surprised if the food they refuse today is the food that they can’t get enough of tomorrow!
- Toddlers only have small stomachs, so the three meals a day that most of us are used to, isn’t enough for their high-energy needs. Offering your child healthy snacks between meals will help them meet their nutritional daily needs. The trick of course is not to allow them to snack too close to mealtimes.
- Don’t let them get stuck in a food rut where they eat the same thing at every mealtime. Offering them a variety of different foods will help allay food boredom, whilst also giving them a wider range of the nutrients they need like calcium, iron, zinc and vitamins.
- Having a fruit bowl in an accessible place is a great way visual prompt to teach kids to reach for fresh foods when they feel like a snack.
- Think about how you can make food fun by involving them in the whole process (rather than just the eating part!) Whether that’s letting them help you choose veggies at the supermarket, or picking strawberries from the garden, getting them excited about food can work wonders.
- Toddlers have limited attention spans, as we know. Limiting distraction like the TV, iPads, etc at meal and snack times can create a much calmer atmosphere for you and your child to explore and enjoy food together.
- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, model good eating habits yourself. Small children listen less to what we say, than to what we do.
Do you have a fussy eater? What tips and tricks can you share with other parents, to help them through this frustrating phase?