Toddlers’ picky eating habits are all too common. After the rapid growth of infancy, when babies typically triple in weight, toddlers tend to slow down their development and appetite.
At this age, their taste in food is still developing. A toddler’s favorite meal may fall to the floor the following day, or previously shunned cuisine can suddenly become a favorite.
Keep in mind that this is a typical toddler trait. So instead, provide your kid with a variety of nutritious food options and know that, over time, their appetite and eating habits will stabilize. Here are a few pointers to assist you through the period of being a fussy eater in the meanwhile.
What Is Normal?
If your child refuses to eat whatever you put in front of them, what do you do? If that is the case, it is not a sign of poor parenting on your part or a medical issue. A typical developmental period is significantly more likely to occur in your youngster.
Between the ages of 12 and 18 months, children are more likely to exhibit ‘picky’ or selective feeding habits. The fear of trying new meals is known as “food neophobia” in the medical community. The capacity to walk correlates with this stage of development. Some believe that neophobia is an attempt to keep children from “wandering out of the cave,” as it were.
In addition, children’s weight increase slows down following a significant growth spurt in the first year of life. This might naturally reduce their appetite, encouraging them to consume fewer but more frequent servings.
An increasing interest in the world around them can also be blamed for your toddler’s reducing appetite. They may not have the time or energy to sit down and eat a typical meal now that they can go about themselves.
The good news is that kids this age are usually really proficient at recognizing when they’re hungry. So it’s better if you can find some healthy lunch ideas for toddler that you can incorporate into their regular eating habit. For years, pediatricians have counseled parents of toddlers to “look at the week, not the day” when it comes to eating. Taking a long-term view will help you see whether they are getting enough nutrients over time, rather than just in the present.
Certain meals can be unappetizing because of their texture or look to certain children. Make sure items are visually attractive for your kid when introducing new foods to their diet.
Leafy greens can be introduced to children in tasty ways, such as in their favorite colorful smoothie. It is easy to add chopped veggies like peppers and carrots to kid-friendly meals like spaghetti sauce and pizza.
Using star cookie cutters, you can also use exciting and creative presentation methods to make meals more appealing to youngsters by cutting fresh fruits and vegetables into interesting shapes.
To guarantee that their children receive the calories they need, parents serve their children large meals. For new cuisines, it may be wiser to start with smaller portions.
Providing children with huge servings might result in them rejecting the meal out of sheer disgust. Start by serving a tiny bit of the new dish first, and do not overdo it.
Serve a few peas as an appetizer before serving your youngster his or her favorite lasagna for dinner. It is best to start with a smaller piece of new food and then gradually increase the amount at each meal until they are eating a typical portion size.
Often, parents attempt to get their children to eat something new by promising a reward like a piece of cake or candy in the future.
But this may not be the best strategy to get them to eat more food.
Rewarding youngsters with junk food like soda, chips, or ice cream will encourage them to eat when they are not hungry.
Non-food incentives are the best way to get people to accept new foods, according to experts. One way to show your children that you are proud of them is to compliment them verbally.
Some non-food prizes that you can use to encourage your kid to eat include stickers, pencils, more playtime, or enabling your child to select a favorite game for after-dinner entertainment.
Involve Kids in Cooking and Meal Planning
It is one of the most crucial things you can do with your children if you want them to become more interested in eating. To make mealtimes more enjoyable for kids, take them to the grocery store and let them choose a few healthful products they would like to try.
Have kids help you prepare dinner by doing age-appropriate chores such as washing or chopping fruits and vegetables or placing food on plates. Children who help prepare meals have been shown to eat more veggies and calories in general than their non-helping peers.
As a bonus, you will be teaching them something they can use for the rest of their lives: how to prepare nutritious meals in the kitchen.
Kids demand a lot of patience in all areas of life. Most children labeled as picky eaters grow out of this trait within a few years, which gives parents some peace of mind.
A survey of more than 4,000 youngsters revealed that 27.5 percent of three-year-olds were picky eaters, compared to only 13.2 percent of six-year-olds.
Pressuring your kid to eat might lead to pickiness and decreased appetite. As annoying as dealing with a picky eater is, patience is the key to improving your child’s intake and extending their food choices.
Cut Out Distractions
Parents should provide a distraction-free atmosphere for their kids during meals and snacks. Picky eaters should avoid the temptation to let their minds wander during meals by watching television or playing video games.
When providing food or snacks to youngsters, always put them at the dining table. This ensures that the children realize that this is a dining area, not a playground.
If a booster seat is required, place the dining table at stomach level so that your kid can sit comfortably. Your youngster will be better able to concentrate on their work if you turn off the television and remove all of the child’s other distractions.
Make Mealtime Fun
Establishing a joyful and stress-free dining environment is essential when dealing with a picky eater. Tension in the air might lead children to become irrational and reject new meals.
Rather than becoming upset, let children, particularly the smaller ones, investigate foods by touching and tasting them firsthand. Introducing new ingredients or finishing a meal can take youngsters longer than you anticipate. They will feel more at ease if you show them your support.
While it is okay to remove food from the table after 30 minutes, experts say that meals should be consumed within that time frame. Another technique to encourage your youngster to eat is to provide food entertainingly. Creating fun recipes with shapes or crazy figures out of food is a way to get kids excited about mealtime.
Avoid Unhealthy Snacking
Snacking on junk food, such as chips, candy, and soda might have a detrimental influence on how much food your kid eats at meals.
Forbidding your kid to nibble throughout the day will just make them less likely to consume food at mealtimes. Meals and snacks should be served every two to three hours throughout the day.
This encourages children to eat before they eat their next meal. Provide nourishing drinks and foods like milk and soup after meals, instead of at the beginning, to prevent the kid from becoming too full before eating.
Use Mindful Eating Techniques
As a parent, you can help your fussy eater by teaching them to pay attention to their hunger and fullness cues. As opposed to pleading with a youngster to finish their meal, ask them how they feel.
Do you have space in your stomach for a second piece of food? Give the child’s viewpoint on how hungry they are and how they perceive the food by asking them, “Does this taste nice to you?” It also helps youngsters develop a better sense of hunger and fullness.
Avoid encouraging your kid to eat beyond their point of fullness since this can lead to weight gain and obesity.
If your child is skipping meals, this might be a phase they are going through. Over time, a wide range of meals will likely broaden their palate and habits.
Suppose your child refuses to eat for more than a few days, that might be a warning signal. In that case, you should not hesitate to seek medical help. Having a toddler is a challenging job, and sometimes you need the support of an expert. Good Luck!