Is your dinner table a battle ground? If you’re unfortunate enough to have a fussy eater on your hands, mealtimes can often become more about tantrums and screaming rather than healthy eating, which can be frustrating for you and your little one.
Rest assured that many other parents experience the same problem, and remember that fussy eating is a normal phase in your tot’s development. Of course you want your toddler to thrive and it’s difficult to see how this can happen when they consume tiny amounts. Try not to get anxious about mealtimes, particularly if you’re expecting your toddler to eat more than he actually does. It can be difficult to respect your tot’s decision that he’s had enough to eat, but it is up to him to decide how much he will eat. Everyone has good and bad days, but rather than focusing on what he eats at a single meal, think about what he eats in a week.
Many infants go through a phase where they eat a very narrow range of foods. This is partly due to food neophobia, which is a fear of new foods. This phase will pass, so there’s no need to worry. It’s a good idea to make sure your toddler gets plenty of exercise to work up an appetite for meal time.
Eat as a family as often as you can and eat the same foods as your child. He will learn to eat new food by copying you and your partner, and other siblings eating them. Remember to cut out the salt from his meal though. Making positive comments about what you’re eating can help. If you say ‘these are yummy’, your tot may be more willing to try them. Also, if he eats well, make sure you praise him.
Did you know that children thrive on routines? Work out a daily routine of three meals and a couple of snacks that fit around your little one’s sleep pattern. If he’s over hungry and too tired he probably won’t eat properly, so give him a small snack or drink before nap time.
The same foods and tastes can get boring for your toddler. Keep things interesting by offering him a savoury course followed by a sweet course. Giving him two courses gives your toddler the chance to take the calories and nutrients he needs and gives him a wider variety of foods to try. Keep portions small, plates stacked high with food can be overwhelming.
If you’re still concerned about your toddlers eating habits, record all the food and drink he consumes over a week. If your toddler has eaten starchy foods, protein, dairy, fruit and vegetables, there’s no need to worry. If you are concerned that the problem may be serious, talk to your GP.