Congratulations (or maybe not), you have a picky eater! This means that you can explore the wonders of different food. You’ll also be often surprised by their preferences. Okay, stop dreaming. It’s hard to have a picky eater. You’re often frustrated. Your efforts are not enough to make your toddler eat the right food. Many times, you’ll question how you’re doing as a parent.
It’s normal for toddlers to be picky eaters. You can consult a nutritional therapist to understand the nutrients your child needs to take daily. In infancy, babies will triple their birth weight. But once they are toddlers, their weight gain will decrease, as well as their appetites. They will have preferences for certain types of food. They’ll eat one type of food for days and then drop it like a hot potato the next day.
It’s easy to get frustrated when you can’t get your kid to eat. You have to make healthy food choices, and in time, your toddler’s appetite and eating habits will normalize. Here are some tips that can guide you:
Eat as a Family
Share meals as a family. Avoid distractions such as television and smartphones. Teach your child the value of eating meals together. Serve at least one dish that they like for everyone to share. Do not serve a different dish to them because that will encourage picky eaters more.
Offer New Kinds of Food
You have to offer a kind of food 10 to 15 times before your kid will try to eat it. Don’t get tired of offering new dishes to try. Your kid is going to discover different tastes and textures, one of which they will surely want to try again. Do not force a new menu item to your child. They hate the idea of being forced to eat something they are not familiar with.
Don’t Fight Over Food
Don’t force your child to eat if they don’t like to. They need to listen to their body and use hunger as a guide. Let them choose to eat or not. Fussing over it will lead you to nowhere. They may even end up hating food that they would have loved otherwise because you keep on pushing them.
Stop Bribing Them
It is tempting to bribe your kid with treats so that they’ll eat their vegetables and fruits. Stop yourself from doing so. You can give them ice cream and sweets in moderation. Don’t give these as treats because they will think about the food that you want them to try as an unpleasant chore. They would only want to try them because of your bribes. This isn’t good “training” for healthy eating.
Make Eating Fun
Cut the food into fun shapes. Using a cookie cutter, cut carrots, cucumber, and other vegetables into fun shapes and sizes. You may even let your toddler do it as long as there’s adult supervision. Making food look irresistible through shapes and colors will excite your child to try and like them.
However, if your kid is an extra picky eater (they skip meals and eat a couple of spoonfuls), talk to your pediatrician. A doctor may prescribe vitamins and supplements so that your kid can get the nutrients that their body needs. But as always, your kid needs you to be patient and understanding as they try to navigate their food journey.