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It is not uncommon for toddlers to be extremely temperamental mealtime companions. Especially when anything from a sudden change to their routine or an illness can lead them to lose their appetite.
It is also important to note that when your toddler expresses their dislike with a food item, they may be trying to assert their independence. No matter the“why” behind their sudden disinterest in food, it usually only lasts a short time and subsides within a few weeks.
Rarely does this result in any health issues down the road. In fact, children don’t require as much food as parents tend to believe so making a big deal out of a temporary change in eating habits, can contribute to a larger problem down the road. These problems can include further food related power struggles and a pattern of picky eating.
Having a picky eater can be extremely stressful for parents, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to encourage your toddler to develop healthy eating habits without making it into a big deal.
If your toddler isn’t eating, continue reading to discover how you can win over your picky eater.
Make It Fun
If you want to get your pick eater to actually eat something, try making it fun. Line up the food and see who can eat 3 bites first, pretending to race them to the finish line. When eating fruits or vegetables, play a game that names animals that might eat those foods. By playing games, you’re taking your toddler’s mind off eating and giving them something else to focus on.
Call It Something Different
If your toddler absolutely hates potatoes and won’t eat what’s on their plate, try calling it something different. Oftentimes, picky eaters decide they don’t like something because of the name or because they’ve heard others say something about it. If you suspect this is the case, call that particular food by a fun name.
Stick to the Tried and True
Sometimes, a battle at the dinner table is the last thing you need. When you feel like youare at the end of your patience, or that you don’t have the energy to force your toddler to eat, then stick to the tried and true foods you know your toddler will eat. On these days, don’t try to force foods that you know will be a battle.
Set Small Goals
Your picky eater probably won’t eat a lot at a time. Because of this, you’ll want to set small eating goals. Set 1-2 baby carrots in a bowl for your child, including any favourite dip. Once this is gone, if your toddler is still hungry, you can add 1-2 more for your toddler to continue eating. By making the portions smaller and setting small goals, you won’t feel overwhelmed trying to make your toddler eat an entire plate at a time.
Remember that toddlers in general need to eat less. They have smaller tummies, and cannot eat as much as an adult. Smaller portions are less overwhelming and more likely to be eaten.
Do not offer alternatives.
You are not a chef running a restaurant. Make sure there is always one item you know they will eat on their plate so they do not go hungry and leave it at that.
Don’t Make Mealtimes Stressful
Don’t force your child to eat anything they do not want to. Encourage them to take a bite of new foods and even food you know they do not like. Do not get upset or frustrated by what they will and will not eat at dinner time. If you regularly get upset your kids will pick up on that and start to dread mealtimes. Stay relaxed and mealtimes will go a lot easier. Being a picky eater is normal for toddlers, there are developmental reasons why toddlers pick at their food. Just relax!
Do you have a picky eater? What are your best tips?
Elizabeth Lampman is a coffee-fuelled Mom of 2 girls and lives in Hamilton, Ontario. She enjoys travelling, developing easy recipes, crafting, taking on diy projects, travelling and saving money!