Toddlers' picky eating is all too common. After the fast development of infancy, during which newborns often quadruple in weight, a toddler's growth rate - and hunger - tends to drop.
Toddlers are also beginning to acquire dietary preferences, which is a tricky process. A toddler's favourite food one day may end up on the floor the next, while a spurned item may suddenly become his or her favourite. For weeks, they may only eat one or two favourite meals.
Try not to get irritated by this common child behaviour. Simply provide healthy meal options and trust that your child's hunger and eating habits will even out over time. Meanwhile, here are some pointers to help you get through the finicky eater stage.
1. Family fashion. As often as possible, have a meal as a family. This means no television or cell phones at mealtime. Make the most of this time by modelling good eating. Serve one meal for the entire family and resist the desire to prepare another if your youngster rejects what you've served. This merely promotes fussy eating. Include at least one food that your child enjoys with each meal and continue to give a balanced meal whether she eats it or not.
2. Fights for food. Avoid making a big deal out of your toddler's refusal to eat. Children should learn to listen to their bodies and utilise hunger as a guide. If they ate a large breakfast or lunch, they might not want to eat much the remainder of the day. It is the obligation of the parent to supply food, and the child's option to consume it. Pressuring or punishing children to eat might cause them to actively despise items they might otherwise enjoy.
3. Stop giving bribes. Try not to entice your children with goodies for eating other foods, as tempting as it may seem. This can make the "prize" meal even more appealing, while making the dish you want them to taste is a hassle. It can also lead to nightly squabbles at the dinner table.
4. Try again and again. Don't give up only because a youngster declines food once. Continue to introduce new meals as well as ones your child previously disliked. A toddler's taste buds may need to be exposed to a food 10 or more times before they accept it. Scheduled meals and snack limits might help guarantee your youngster is hungry while introducing a new cuisine.
5. Variety is the spice of life. Provide a range of healthful meals, including vegetables and fruits, as well as higher protein items such as meat and deboned fish at least twice a week. Allow your youngster to experiment with various flavours and textures in food. To make ordinary meals more flavorful, experiment with various herbs and spices. Offer new meals in tiny amounts to reduce waste, and wait at least a week or two before reintroducing the same dish.
6. Make meals enjoyable. Toddlers are especially receptive to meals presented in visually appealing, imaginative ways. Arrange meals in attractive, colourful shapes that toddlers may recognise to make them appear tempting. This age group also likes any cuisine that involves a dip. Finger snacks are very popular among toddlers. Cut solid meals into bite-sized pieces that they can easily consume on their own, making sure the pieces are small enough to avoid choking.
7. Involve children in meal preparation. Make the most of your toddler's burgeoning interest in exercising control. Allow your youngster to choose the fruits and vegetables to prepare for supper or to purchase at the grocery store or farmer's market. Read kid-friendly cookbooks with your child and allow him or her to choose new dishes to try.
8. Small chefs. To mention a few, several cooking operations are ideal for children (with plenty of supervision): sifting, stirring, counting ingredients, collecting fresh herbs from a garden or windowsill, and "painting" on frying oil with a pastry brush.
9. Bridge crossing. Once a meal has been approved, dietitians recommend using "food bridges" to introduce others with comparable colour, flavour, and texture to help extend the range of foods your kid will consume. If your youngster likes pumpkin pie, try mashed sweet potatoes followed by mashed carrots.
10. A lovely couple. Serve novel foods or flavours that young children reject at first (sour and bitter) alongside familiar foods that toddlers typically favour (sweet and salty). Combining bitter broccoli with salty grated cheese, for example, is a terrific combo for baby taste receptors.