Is your toddler a fussy eater?
Are mealtimes with your fussy toddler stressing you out? You are not alone -1 in 2 children are fussy eaters. Its quite normal for them to not like the shape, smell, colour or texture of particular foods.
It’s also normal for children to like something one day but dislike it the next, it can be difficult for them to get used to different tastes and textures and may take as many as 15 exposures before they like a certain food. Children’s appetites change regularly with growth and their daily activity levels, but often it just your little human being asserting their independence!
Your child’s willingness to try food will depend partly on the eating environment. Pleasant, low-stress mealtimes can help.
Here are some tips:
- Make mealtimes regular and a positive experience- try not to worry about food and drinks that get spilt or dropped on the floor
- Don’t have high expectations
- Never force your child to eat; children will eat what they need
- Don’t make a fuss over them when they are not eating as this may encourage them to continue their fussy behaviour
- Let the children help with food preparation; make it look fun and interesting – e.g. Zucchini noodles, fruit skewers
- Set a time limit of about 20 minutes for meals. Anything that drags on is no fun for adults let alone children. Remove the food and don’t offer a substitute, as they will learn this is a reward for food refusal
- Be a good role model. Eat with your child at meal times and show them you enjoy eating healthy foods. Try to avoid making negative comments about foods you dislike
According to Ellen Satter’s (An expert in childhood feeding) theory it is the responsibility of both the parent and child to eat and enjoy nutritious foods.
Parents are responsible for three things:
- What the child eats
- When they eat
- Where they eat
Children are responsible for two things:
- How much they eat
- whether they eat at all
Allowing your child to choose how much and whether they eat while offering a variety of nutritious foods (from the five food groups), at regular meal times, in a pleasant eating environment will promote them to become a competent eater and allow them to have the independence they need.
Do you worry your child isn’t eating enough? Chances are you may actually be serving them too much food! A child will never starve themselves. Research has shown more than 70% of parents offer larger portions than recommended at mealtimes. A toddler’s stomach is only about the size of their clenched fist. As long as your child is energetic and their weight follows along near the same percentile, they are growing well.
Do you have more specific questions?
If you would like to book an appointment with our accredited dietitian, please contact us today. We welcome any questions you might have regarding your or your child’s diet, nutrition and mental health, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Looking for more practical advice?
Join Amy’s Facebook group, Connected Dietetics. You’ll be able to connect with like minded people, gain support and knowledge and regularly learn tips and tricks to manage your diet.
Ellyn Satter Institute. (2018). The division of responsibility in feeding. Retrieved February 17, 2018 from https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/
Munro, J. & Beck, K. (2017) Fussy Eating [Online notes]. from www.daa.com.au