How To Get Through The Picky Eating Stage With Your Toddler
27 March 2023
Is picky eating becoming a concern? As your baby grows through toddlerhood, they start learning to control parts of their lives, and one common way they do this is by deciding what they will and won’t eat. This is a very common issue that most parents face when it comes to toddlers at the dinner table, so don’t stress too much!
Most of the time, your toddler will, eventually, grow out of this picky eating phase. However, in the meantime, there are some steps you can take to help expand their taste palate and create healthy eating patterns. Below, we’re laying out some of our top tips for parents with fussy eating toddlers.
1. Let them decide
We get it, this may sound counter-intuitive, but trust us. Part of the reason your toddler won’t eat something is probably because they feel like they are being forced to and they want to take some control. Giving your toddler a range of foods on the plate and letting them decide what they will and won’t eat will make mealtimes more pleasant for them.
The more enjoyable mealtimes are for your toddler, the better the mood they’ll be in and the more willing they are to try that meal you’ve given them! So, offer options, sit back, and allow them to decide what to eat.
2. Give them time
Toddlers love to tell you how they feel about the food you’ve made, saying “I no eat” or “that’s so gross,” but getting into an argument with them can make them even more stubborn. Alternatively, you can reply with, “you can eat it when you’re ready.”
Keep your child at the table with their food for a little while, and If they still won’t eat it, it may be due to them being fussy, or they simply might not be hungry. Let them leave the table and remind them that if they’re hungry later, they have that meal to finish. Giving them control over when they eat, can satisfy their need for independence, and may help with their pickiness.
3. Eat together
Understandably, you cannot always sit down and have mealtime with your toddler, but trying to as often as possible can really help picky eaters. Creating a situation where your toddler can see you eating can encourage them do the same. This also helps with having older siblings at the table, as little ones like to mimic their big brothers or sisters.
Picky eaters sometimes don’t want to eat because there are so many other exciting activities for them to doing. However, if everyone else around them is eating, they’ll feel more inclined to do so. It also helps them develop better habits while eating as they copy your movements.
4. Eat the same meals, but include something they love on the plate
Creating a meal that both you and your toddler can eat together can help show them that the food isn’t so bad! When they’re handed a plate, but no one else is eating that meal, it can discourage them from trying. If everyone around your toddler is eating something and enjoying it, they’ll likely follow suit.
Make sure that your toddler is also getting some of their favourite meals at the same time. You can give your toddler what everyone else is eating and also a little of their favourite on the side to make them feel more comfortable with the foods they have in front of them.
5. Make meals fun
Sometimes, just changing the way your toddler’s meals are presented can make a huge difference in what they eat and how much they eat. For example, a sandwich might not look too enticing, but a sandwich cut into little star shapes with a cookie cutter can completely change your toddler’s eagerness to try the food.
Colours and shapes can help engage your toddler, so try to avoid using the plain coloured foods and use colourful substitutes instead. Cut your toddler’s food up into different shapes and sizes, create a scene out of the plate (like pancakes with faces on them), and more to make the food look and feel different and fun.
6. Reconsider portion sizes
Starting off with smaller sizes can help your toddler adjust to new foods or foods they are refusing to eat. Larger portions can overwhelm toddlers, so add a mouthful of the nonpreferred or new food to their plate instead. They may not eat it straight away, but constantly exposing your toddler to the food can eventually lead to curiousness and trying it.
Picky eating is extremely common within toddlers, but as parents, there are steps we can take to encourage healthy eating and make it a bit less intimidating for your picky toddler. We hope these tips will help make your toddler more comfortable around different foods, especially the disliked ones, and it sets them up to expand their palate in the future!