I don’t even like the label “picky eater”. But just so we all understand what we are talking about, let’s call it picky eating.
Picky eating is more common in toddlers than we think. After the swift growth in infancy when infants usually triple their birth weight, their weight gain speed and appetite dwindles a bit.
Toddlers begin to taste new meals (family meals), spices, and start to develop food preferences as expected. Don’t be surprised if a best food today becomes “poison” the very next day and a meal that has been snubbed since forever suddenly becomes the new best food. Some times, they pick one or two meals and they want nothing else for weeks.
Try not to get too worked up. Jus keep offering healthy meal options from time to time.
Here are other tips that can help you through this phase.
1. Family Meal Time
There is every possibility that your kid will eat more from your plate or if you are eating the same thing at the same time. Family meal time means no distractions like Instagram, TV, or any other gadget. Try to include one thing your child likes in each meal. For example, if your child likes plantain but rice is on the menu, bend over a bit to serve the entire family Rice and plantain. It will encourage your choosy baby eat more.
2. Avoid Snapping
If your toddler says no to food, avoid fussing over it. If they eat a big breakfast or lunch, chances are they will want to skip the next meal completely or just snack. Let their body be the guide to how hunger they are not your gauge by the quantity they ate or how long ago their last meal was. Forcing them to eat or snapping at them for not eating will make them fight more. Avoid food fight.
3. Avoid bribes.
As tempting as this is, try not to do it. Here is why, it becomes an habit that your toddler will always expect a gift for eating. Also, this “prize” will always be more pleasing making every other meal unpleasant.
4. Don’t give up.
If you haven’t introduced a meal up to 33 times, don’t conclude your baby doesn’t like it. Just because a child refuses a food once, don’t give up. It can take up to 10 times of introducing the same dish for your toddler’s taste buds to accept it.
Offer different dishes from fruits to vegetables, protein foods etc. Let your child explore varieties of flavours and textures.
6. Make food fun.
Kids are generally fun little humans. They are more open to trying meals served in creative ways. Use shapes and colours to make the food irresistible.
Extra tips for older kids
1. Involve them in meal planning
2. Involve them in the cooking process
If you toddler still refuses food after trying all these, speak with a kid nutritionist.
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