Estimated read time : 4 minutes
Toddlers by age 2 usually begin to gain their independence and getting them to finish their meal turns out to be a herculean task. This can be worrisome but fussy eating is a normal phase in your toddler’s development.
Most kids under age 5 are fussy eaters. They either refuse to eat or are very selective about what they eat. It’s normal for your toddler to like something today and dislike it the next or to refuse eating new foods altogether.
Remember your child’s growth cycle is also affecting their appetite. This is the reason why they may be really hungry one day and picky the next.
This is all part of your child’s development. It is also a way of exploring their environment and asserting their independence. But the good news is that as children get older, they are likely to get less fussy about what they eat and will be enthusiastic about trying different kinds of foods.
So how do you deal with a fussy eater? Here are some tips.
1. Make mealtime a family & fun affair
2. Gradually introduce your child to new food
3. Involve your toddler
Ensure you have at least one meal a day together as a family. Seeing you eat your meal will encourage your toddler to eat too. Also, it is imperative that you keep mealtimes pleasant, positive, stress-free and fun. This will surely help, as your toddler’s willingness to eat is partly dependent on the eating environment.
Pro Tip: Be cheerful, social and happy around your child during mealtimes. Do not fret too much about the food or water that is spilt on the floor or dining table by your toddler. More importantly, remember to turn off the television to avoid any unnecessary distractions. This will allow you to have a special mealtime with your little one.
The strange tastes and textures of new food can be overwhelming for your toddler. But do not give up! It is said that children need to see new food on their plate at least 5 to 10 times before they even consider trying it. So, serve that particular food repeatedly. Your toddler will probably taste it and ultimately like it.
Pro Tip: Make food attractive by serving healthy food options that are colourful, and prepared in interesting shapes and sizes. Also, keep the praises coming. Let your toddler know how happy you are when he/she eats well or tries a portion of new food.
Further, serve food that is appropriate for your toddler’s age and in portion sizes recommended. Remember, your child’s appetite is still developing so it is best to serve bite-sized food or in quantities as directed by your child’s health care provider.
This is the phase in their growth where kids are beginning to explore their independence. So the best way to make your fussy eater try new food is to go along with their need and offer them the liberty to choose the food they wish to eat.
Pro Tip: Once your child is old enough, involve them in the food preparation or food shopping process. The chances of them trying the food they have picked or helped prepare are quite high. Also, remember to only offer your toddler 2 or 3 healthy food options to choose from. Anything more than that can confuse and overwhelm your little one.
It is important that you stay positive and be patient when you deal with a fussy eater. Yelling at your toddler or losing your cool is not going to put an end to your child’s fussy eating habit. In fact, it will only escalate it.
So stay calm and relaxed and soon, your child will be eating without a fuss.