Being a fussy eater is part of being a toddler, but as a parent, there are tonnes of tricks you can use to get your toddler to settle down and eat and not be a fussy eater.
Around the age of 6 months is the time when most parents think about weaning their baby, this can be a very stressful time for both parent and baby. Parents will prepare all kinds of delicious meals that are full of different flavours and tastes. However, later on, toddlers will begin to show their preferences and dislikes. It is always best to persevere and stay calm when dealing with these hiccups.
Below are some helpful tips when dealing with a fussy eater.
1. Start Early.
The period between 4 months and two years is the most exciting time for your child, and they will be willing to try out anything once. Please take this opportunity to introduce them to a variety of new foods and new tastes. It will also help you identify which foods your toddler prefers. This will be very helpful as with toddlers, familiar is equivalent to favourite.
2. Do not be afraid to say ‘No’ to your fussy eater.
Your toddler will demand every sugary, creamy goody on your way to and from the park and will cause a tantrum when you say no. Remember it is okay to say ‘No’. This is because your child will refuse to eat other foods apart from those sweet goodies if you let them. You need to introduce your child to healthy foods before the sweets.
3. Ensure your child is really hungry before dinner time.
Do not allow them to eat sweets or snacks for at least two hours before dinner. Instead, if they are hungry, give them something healthy such as a fruit or vegetable to snack on. Also, try to let them get out and play more so that they can really work up an appetite.
4. Involve your child in the purchasing and preparation of their food.
Take your child food shopping with you. Let them choose what they would like to eat. When it comes to preparing their food, involve them, for instance, they could whisk the flour or under strict supervision cut up some of the ingredients. It will be fun for both of you and will make him look forward to eating what he has made.
5. Have a similar mealtime for everyone.
Try and make sure that meal times in the house are a social time. That means sitting down together and placing their food in front of them, and you are eating yours at the same time. If your toddler is older, it is advisable to let him feed himself. He will make a mess, but this encourages independence and develops self-help skills. Make sure to praise your child for every bite and reward him after he has finished his meal. It will make dinnertime less of a nightmare.
6. Prepare healthy colourful meals for your child.
Toddlers are very visual and will probably enjoy a gingerbread shaped sandwich than they will a lump of bread. Most toddler foods may be boring, and this will reduce your child’s interest in the food. Instead, mix various colour food to make him interested. Brightly orange grated carrots with broccoli and tomatoes shaped like a face on his plate will definitely perk up his interest.
7. Do not give up on a new food because your child does not seem to like it.
Children will generally have to try a dish at least 10 to 15 times before they can decide if they like it. Once your child gets used to the new meal, they will love it. Again familiar is equivalent to favourite.
Also, remember that your child’s appetite will be significantly affected by the change in their growth cycles. Even babies have different fluctuating appetites, and between the ages of 1 to 5 years, children will be hungry one moment and picky eaters next. Also, remember your children are smart and may refuse to eat simply because it gets a reaction from you. They may be testing the limits of independence to see what you will do or say. Stay calm and if they refuse their meals, remove the food and try again later on.
If you become worried about your child’s eating habits, contact your health visitor who will be able to help you.