Toddlers usually tend to be picky eaters and fuss during mealtime. Not only will this be a challenge for you as a parent but you might also be concerned about whether your toddler is getting all the necessary nutrients.
But don’t panic, around 20-50% of toddlers are described by their parents as fussy or picky eaters. And as it turns out, there’s always a safe way of dealing with a picky eater.
Why do babies turn into picky eaters? And what can you do about it? We’ll answer these questions and more so you can breathe easy.
Why is my toddler being picky with food?
As you might already know, picky eating is a part of growing up for your child. But there are certain things that you can keep in mind
- Sudden transition to solids. When you shift your child’s diet from liquid to solid, there will be resistance.
- Need for independence. It might come as a surprise to some, but children, even at this age, will have a growing need for independence and control.
- New foods & tastes. Like us adults, toddlers will have their own preferences in taste, texture and smells. Some prefer bland foods, some prefer more flavor and some might refuse to try new foods altogether.
As mentioned earlier, toddlers lean towards being picky with food so there’s usually no cause for concern. However, if your child’s height and weight are not what they’re supposed to be or you notice an unusually high aversion to food, then consult your pediatrician immediately.
How to encourage your child to try new foods
Though it might be a bit challenging at first, trying these suggestions will likely encourage your toddler to try new foods.
- Include your child in meal preparation. Your finicky toddler might be intrigued by the actual activity of preparing the meal. To make him/her want to eat what you’re making, show your enthusiasm while preparing and cooking.
- Mix & match! Have the little one’s plate loaded with a variety of foods like steamed or sauteed veggies, fruits, flavored yogurts, pureed veggies, etc. Making it more colorful with different shapes and sizes will excite your child.
- Frozen slushies. A fun way to make your toddler have healthy vegetable or fruit juices would be to freeze them and present as an icicle or a slushie. Especially perfect for summer!
- Make it tasty! This is obvious but harder to implement as you can’t readily give your toddler all sorts or spicy foods, so try making flavorful dips (yogurt based) for veggie sticks, season the fruits with some sea salt, etc.
- New foods when he/she’s hungry. Sounds silly but it’s good to introduce new foods to your child when they’re really hungry, chances are he/she’ll gobble it up.
How to fix your picky eating toddler
Now that you know how you can safely and effectively incorporate new foods into your toddler’s diet, maintaining his/her healthy appetite for said foods will be your next challenge. Here’s a few tips on how to fix your picky toddler:
- Don’t force feed. One of the most common mistakes that new parents make is force feeding their child. Avoid this at all costs as your child might develop unhealthy eating habits.
- Set a mealtime routine. Having regular mealtimes will improve your child’s feeding habits. And he/she won’t snack at odd times.
- Try “food bridging”. A term used to describe feeding your toddler similar foods. For example, if your child likes broccoli, try giving cabbage. Or if he/she likes musk melon, try feeding some watermelon.
- Sneak in the nutritious stuff. Adding tiny finely chopped bits of carrots, apples, melon into his/her cereal or sauteing finely chopped veggies like broccoli, cabbage, etc and adding them to mashed potatoes.
- Make food “art”. Carve a smiley into the mashed potatoes, place blueberries as eyes in the cereal, carrot as a nose, etc. Get imaginative. Making food into art that your toddler finds appealing is a great way to get them to eat.
- Be the example. Children learn by watching their parents so show your enthusiasm for all the healthy foods. Take the first bite and express how yum it is! And also, it’s good to have both mommy and daddy eat together with the child.
- Don’t give up. Don’t be defeated because your toddler refuses to eat something, continue to serve the same food until he/she eventually tries it. Be patient.
What to feed your picky toddler?
Although there’s a whole list of things that are healthy for your child to start eating early, here is a list of foods that they’re more likely to try as compared to others:
- Hummus. Chickpeas are very nutritional and the creamy texture of hummus might encourage your little one to try it.
- Sauteéd veggies. Although, steamed veggies are preferable, try serving sauteéd veggies. The crispyness will coax your child to try it out!
- Mashed potatoes. Like hummus, the creamy texture of mashed potatoes might be enticing to your toddler.
- Fruit salad with cream. Instead of giving your toddler sugars, give them a healthy serving of small pieces of fruits like apple, melons, berries, oranges, etc. along with a generous drizzle of milk cream.
- Soups. Soups like lentil soup or tomato soup are good for your tiny tot.
- Avocados. Spread some avocado onto his/her toast and watch them happily chomp down.
- Peas. Stir fried, steamed or sauteéd, serve them however he/she likes
So, try these tips and suggestions and gradually over time you will see that your child will be less and less fussy about eating.
And to help you be prepared for the messy mealtimes with your toddler, here are a few mealtime essential products we recommend you stock up on
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