Toddlers generally tend to go through the fussy eating stage. How severe (for want of a better word) that fussiness may be varies. Amelia was good as gold and would try anything I would give her but her fussy stage was the refusal to be fed by anyone other than herself which meant most things she couldn’t really eat properly as she had zero utensil skills at that point. She never ended up eating enough and it was hard to know what to do to get her to eat more. I was mixing up some really healthy purée meals for her but all she was able to eat was finger food like chips, fish fingers and nuggets.
If you have a fussy child you probably know how easy it is to just give in and opt for quick and easy foods and snacks as all the lovingly made foods most likely get thrown on the floor and refused. Many an occasion have I just gone for a quick fix of fish fingers and chips – in my defence they were omega 3! And on the odd occasion she would get some peas, which probably would get ignored!
Its important to engage your toddler as much as possible at meal times and be very persistent with the healthy bits they would rather ignore. Here is a few tips to make mealtimes less challenging:
Use your imagination
Children can help prep for the meal. Let them put food on their plate wherever they like and take them shopping picking out each bit and showing it to them. When you get home you can then reminisce and ask if they remember that trip when we picked up X.
Talk to him/her
Toddlers aren’t silly, and the more interaction they get with Something the more interested they’ll be thus hopefully making them more untested. For example, explain why healthy food is good and important for them.
YOuncould use a sticker chart to encourage him/her to eat fruit and veg. I.e. they get a shiny sticker for every variety of fruit of vegetable they eat, but it only counts if the whole lot is gone. Getting 5 stats per day results in a treat such as watching a favourite TV show or a bed time story or floor time with their favourite toy. Rewards can be things they already get anyway but they dint think that sndvwukk think it’s great!
Food is fun
Let them play with their food naming shapes, moving bits around, usingbfunny names Ike falling spaghetti worms or shoelaces. By nakinf food fun you are encouraging your toddler to engage more ib their food on their plate.
Avoid junk foods
Of there’s junk food there, that’s what your toddler is going to want. If you were given the choice between chocolate and an orange, I think we would all go for the chocolate! Well toddlers are exactly the same! Don’t be tempted to buy junk food just to get them to eat something because this plants the idea into their head that if they say no enough and kick off enough then they get yummy food rather than healthy food.
Sometimes the key to getting children to eat fruit is to let them do things themselves like peeling bananas or pulling the green bit off of the strawberry. Let them chose which fruit they want themselves and if they won’t each fresh fruit try giving dried fruit instead as this can look a bit like sweets which may be slightly more appealing. Children that already like to eat fruit should have it for a snack and pudding.
Pay attention to packaging as many meals that may say they are suitable for children actually mean they’re suitable for 4 years plus. Toddler food is for children under 36 months and it has very strict regulations to ensure the foods meet the nutritional guidelines. Also check labels to see if food is free from added salt.
You can hide vegetables in certain food to make sure your toddler gets some goodness. Try soup, a stew, homemade sauces to dip home made potato vigils or sweet potato chips, fish/cottage/shepherds pie, pizzas and roasts.