It is normal for some toddlers to eat everything they are offered whilst others will turn their nose up at food they previously enjoyed. Your toddler may also eat less than before – this too is quite normal.
- avoid making mealtimes a battleground. Being a toddler is all about pushing the boundaries and becoming an individual. Long term food hang-ups can begin at this time so, however frustrated you are inside, try not to let your toddler know. You are still older and smarter. Don’t threaten or bribe – “No sweet ‘til you’ve eaten your meat” – Remember that one?
- we know how difficult it is to eat when we’re tired. Don’t expect your child to enjoy it either. To ensure your child enjoys and stands every chance of eating well, plan to have the meal in the early evening
- let your child feed themselves with a spoon or fingers. At first the spoon may be used wrongly – upside down or empty – but bear with it. Your child will soon learn how to use it properly when food is wanted.
- many toddlers eat only one or two good meals each day and pick at snacks the rest of the time. This is normal. Avoid offering snacks just before meals
- offer your child small amounts of a variety of foods and give choice over what is eaten. Even as adults, we eat more if there is a wider choice. Also offer choice so a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer isn’t an option. For example, “would you like an apricot or banana?”
- although milk is still important for your child, check your child isn’t ‘filling up’ on it. At this stage he should be drinking about 600mls each day of blue top milk
- involve your child in preparing food. They will love chopping vegetables and stirring mixes!
- limit mealtimes to 10-15 minutes and then remove the food without offering alternatives. Praise them for what has been eaten
- keep offering your child small amounts of the refused food as it can take time to like a new taste
- if cooked vegetables are refused, try giving them raw. Vegetables are equally nutritious whether a raw snack or within a cooked meal. As adults, we might eat vegetable sticks with a dip. Let your child try some too
- reduce the number of distractions. Switch off the television. Sit down at a table away from toys and games
- toddlers gravitate towards attention whether it’s positive or negative. The more fuss made about eating, the more fuss will be generated and the longer it will continue.