Many parents find that meal times become more difficult as their toddler starts to gain independence. Although, this can be very frustrating, fussy eating is a normal phase in your toddler’s development. It will get better with time.
Your child needs time to understand that new food isn’t dangerous and that it can even be pleasant! It is by seeing you eating these foods that your little one will gain confidence. Gradually, they will end up eating more and more varied food.
Here, some tips to help you out and not lose patience:
1) Eat with your toddler as often as possible. It is by watching and imitating their parents and other children that toddlers agree to at least try food they are not used to.
2) Make positive comments about the food you eat. You are a model for your child and such comments will make them want to taste it too.
3) Limit meals to 20-30 minutes and accept that beyond that your child no longer wants to eat. Wait for the next snack or meal to provide nourishing food for your little one rather than prolonging the meal and forcing him to continue eating. Most toddlers will not eat anything after 20 minutes.
4) Encourage your toddler when they eat well. Praise continuously to make sure you are rewarding the right behaviours. If you only pay attention to your child when he does not eat, they may refuse to eat just so you are interested in them.
5) Don't plate up big portions. Toddlers sometimes struggle with too much food and lose their appetite. Children should be eating all the food groups at each meal where possible. And a portion should be around the size of your childs clenched fist.
Kids & Food
6) Eat in a quiet and relaxed environment, without TV, games or toys. Toddlers only focus on one thing at a time. If they are distracted, they will have much more difficulty concentrating on what they eat.
7) When you dine out, chances are that your child will not eat what is offered to him if they are not accustomed to it. Bringing a meal or a small snack from home that you know they will eat is a great idea to avoid keeping them waiting until you go home.
8) Don't think that your child will never eat a food that they have refused once. The tastes of young children evolve over time. Some children sometimes refuse a food ten times in a row before being tempted and then never turning back!
Don’t feel guilty when a meal turns into disaster. Forget it and think of the next one with optimism. Parents also learn by making mistakes.
Written by: Bertille Terras