If you’re reading this, it’s a safe bet that your little one isn’t the most cooperative eater on the block. It takes a lot of energy and creativity to make sure your toddler gets enough nutrients. Perhaps this endearing little person in your life refuses to eat, pushes away his or her plate, acts out at meals and snacks, refuses different textures and tastes, or exhausts you by asking for more food before leaving the table. News flash: this is normal and every toddler goes through it. So how do you deal with fussy eating toddlers?
It's every parent's nightmare acted out three or four times a day: you lovingly make a meal, but your toddler turns into a raging monster and refuses to eat it. You try everything you can think of to coax them into eating, but your attempts lead nowhere – or worse, makes things worse.
It seems like a common occurrence that food-loving toddlers suddenly become uninterested in eating, often going from picky eaters to severe fussy eaters. But it isn't just an intentional bid for attention. Your children's little brains are growing at an incredible pace, and their nutrition needs change as they get older - which can lead to eating problems and even a well-intentioned worry about nutrition.
It is a common parenting concern, because it's hard to know where to draw the line between respecting your child's preferences, and if they're in some way refusing to meet their nutritional needs. The answer lies in understanding a bit about toddlers' eating habits, and the many stages they go through as they learn what's good for them.
I have some bad news: your toddler is not getting enough nutrition. Bad is subjective, of course. You could have a two year old who is still doing fine, running around and talking up a storm and doing things like walking, pointing to the TV screen when Dora comes on, or whatever else two year olds do. But nutrition-wise, you've failed them.
Does Distracting Them Work?
The secret to getting a fussy eater to eat is distraction. If they're busy with something else, they don't notice they're not eating. Offer her the food in two separate places so she goes to one, then help her forget about it while you put the food in a less obvious location that she'll have to find. Or if she's sitting in her highchair being served and instead of eating, finds a book to read or clay to knead, she's distracted herself from eating without even realizing it. Your toddler will begin trusting you with food that could potentially go into his mouth – and before you know it, he'll begin eating anything you put in front of him!
Being a picky eater is most common among toddlers. It's not only about the changing food preferences but also about their developing sense of self-control and autonomy which can lead to food protest.
Colic can be a tough problem to deal with. It impacts the lives and happiness of those around the affected baby, causing stress for parents and older siblings. It also impacts the baby in question; colic is not just an annoyance, it results in pain and discomfort for the baby, which can interfere with their ability to eat.
If you've got an otherwise healthy child who is slow at eating, don't worry too much. If food is simply being pushed around the plate without actually being eaten, he or she's probably just bored with the types of food that are served and looking for a little more flavor and variety in their nutrition.