Picky eating is actually a normal thing for toddlers. After the rapid growth of infancy, when babies usually triple in weight, a toddler’s growth rate – and appetite – tends to slow down. This causes them to be more picky on what they eat because they feel hungry less.
Many parents worry that their picky eater are not getting enough nutrition to grow. Picky eating usually peaks in the toddler and preschool years. Everyday the pattern may be different when it comes to their eating habits. One day they may eat everything and more and others they just lightly snack. It is unrealistic to expect a toddler to eat a large amount of food at each meal everyday; after all, a toddler’s stomach is approximately the same size as her clenched fist (Martins, 2002).
Try not to get frustrated by this typical toddler behavior. Research has proven that parent's food preferences effects their children’s food preferences (Borah-Giddens & Falciglia, 1993). As parents we put our adult thinking on our child's behavior with food. Most children at this age are sensitive to the taste, smell, or texture of food. In the meantime, here are some tips that can help you get through the picky eater stage.
1. Don't give them a choice: When I say this I mean make the meal and don't give them an option on something else. Parents tend to make multiple things when their child proclaims they do not like what was presented. Often times this is because they want something else. If they tell you confirm that they have no clue on what they want then don't give them a choice. Don't force them to eat just leave it there and they'll eventually come and eat the food. Most toddlers like to challenge you opposite to doing what is told.
2. Ask them what they want: Before making food ask your little what he or she would like to eat. If it's reasonable then make what they want. It takes less time and energy than slaving over a meal they refuse. Another good idea is let them make the food with you or let them make their food themselves. I put snacks and food low in the refrigerator/ pantry for Bastian to grab and make himself. He loves he can do it and makes him eat more.
3. Make food fun: Making food can be a challenge sometimes. Cutting them into fun shapes can work. Or having them help you in the process they tend to enjoy. Bastian loves to make popcorn; so I showed him that he can make different types of popcorn in different ways. So now he begs to make it. Seeing that process and seeing what he liked about it helped me apply that to other foods. He likes to see things change colors so I do that with vegetables and food coloring. Getting the. cookie cutters are great too. You can cut their food into characters or shapes they love and they can do it too.
Just take a deep breath and always remember that your child's eating habits won't likely change overnight — but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.
Here's some sources from some additional information and more tips.
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