When it comes to getting your toddlers fed, it is most definitely not an easy feat. And it is not uncommon for toddlers to have strong likes/dislikes towards a certain kind of food. As they slowly gain independence, they become averse to some food and at the same time cannot resist binging on their favourite snacks. This is very common and you will be amazed at how much people should. At times they tend to skip meals depending on their mood or taste. So, most toddlers are described by their parents as picky eaters. But remember a toddler’s development rate and hunger slow down after the rapid growth of infancy, when kids frequently triple in weight. But often parents worry if their toddlers are getting adequate nutrition.
By Ishaq Aleem
Toddlers acquire food preferences, which is a tricky process. A toddler’s favourite food one day could end up on the floor the next, while a rejected food could become the one he or she craves. They may only eat 1 or 2 favourite foods for weeks at a time. The more flavours babies are exposed to, the more likely they are to appreciate a wide variety of meals as they get older, which is when they reach their double digits and beyond. One reason is that children’s appetites change as their growth rate decreases. Some children might like a particular food but, in some cases, children prefer staying on liquids to gulp something inside and fill their stomach. This is because they are accustomed to taking in milk. Which means they are not open to trying other things just as yet. It’s fine if your youngster eats a lot at one meal and very little at another. Try not to become irritated by this common child behaviour. Simply provide healthy meal options and trust that your child’s appetite and eating habits will improve with time.Try not to get frustrated by this typical toddler behavior. Just make healthy food choices available and know that, with time, your child’s appetite and eating behaviors will level out. In the meantime, here are some tips that can help you get through the picky eater stage.
Share a meal together as a family as often as you can and that means you should have no media distractions like TV or cell phones at mealtime. Use this time to model healthy eating. Serve one meal for the whole family and resist the urge to make another meal if your child refuses what you’ve served. This only encourages picky eating. Try to include at least one food your child likes with each meal and continue to provide a balanced meal, whether she eats it or not.
If your toddler refuses a meal, avoid fussing over it. It’s good for children to learn to listen to their bodies and use hunger as a guide. If they ate a big breakfast or lunch, for example, they may not be interested in eating much the rest of the day. It’s a parent’s responsibility to provide food, and the child’s decision to eat it. Pressuring kids to eat, or punishing them if they don’t, can make them actively dislike foods they may otherwise like.
Also tempting as it may be, try not to bribe your children with treats for eating other foods. This can make the “prize” food even more exciting, and the food you want them to try is an unpleasant chore. It also can lead to nightly battles at the dinner table.
And remember just because a child refuses food once, don’t give up. Keep offering new foods and those your child didn’t like before. It can take as many as 10 or more times tasting a food before a toddler’s taste buds accept it. Scheduled meals and limiting snacks can help ensure your child is hungry when a new food is introduced.
Variety is the spice of life. Offer a variety of healthy foods, especially vegetables and fruits, and include higher protein foods like meat and deboned fish at least 2 times per week. Help your child explore new flavors and textures in food. Try adding different herbs and spices to simple meals to make them tastier. To minimize waste, offer new foods in small amounts and wait at least a week or two before reintroducing the same food. Toddlers are especially open to trying foods arranged in eye-catching, creative ways. Make foods look irresistible by arranging them in fun, colorful shapes kids can recognize. Kids this age also tend to enjoy any food involving a dip. Finger foods are also usually a hit with toddlers. Cut solid foods into bite size pieces they can easily eat themselves, making sure the pieces are small enough to avoid the risk of choking.
It really matters when you involve kids in meal planning. Put your toddler’s growing interest in exercising control to good use. Let your child pick which fruit and vegetable to make for dinner or during visits to the grocery store or farmer’s market. Read kid-friendly cookbooks together and let your child pick out new recipes to try.
Have you heard about how tiny chefs work? Some cooking tasks are perfect for toddlers (with lots of supervision, of course): sifting, stirring, counting ingredients, picking fresh herbs from a garden or windowsill, and “painting” on cooking oil with a pastry brush, to name a few. This goes a long way, allowing your toddlers to enjoy the art of cooking in such amazing ways!
And when you notice that they are finally warming up to a food choice, you know you are making major progress.Once a food is accepted, use what nutritionists call “food bridges” to introduce others with similar color, flavor and texture to help expand variety in what your child will eat. If your child likes pumpkin pie, for example, try mashed sweet potatoes and then mashed carrots.