Help with fussy eating

nur feedchild lgFussy eating, food fads and food refusals are generally a normal part of being a toddler. What can you do?

Air and water. Well, so the saying goes that toddlers seem to survive on air and water, as their food intake appears so minimal at times.

But when it comes to optimal growth and development, it's important to keep an eye on key growth nutrients and role model good behaviours. Let us show you how.

Toddler tactics

  • Remember fussy eating, food fads and food refusals are generally a normal part of being a toddler. You may feel stressed and anxious at times over your child's eating habits. Talk to your friends with toddlers and seek help from a health care professional if you are concerned about your child's growth or energy levels.

A little mess is best

  • Offer a variety of healthy meals and snacks in a self-serve style. Allowing your toddler a choice of foods and hands on approach often encourages their interest in meals. Remember to always supervise children when eating for safety reasons, especially choking prevention.

Keep it relaxed

  • Encourage, praise their efforts and keep mealtimes relaxed. Toddlers have appetites that go up and down, but average out over time. Remove any part of the meal that is not eaten after a reasonable time - 20 minutes is probably long enough to stay with any meal. Try not to use foods as punishment or rewards or force meals on your child if you hear the 'I'm not hungry' or 'I don't like it' cries.

Try and try again

  • As with babies, if at first you don't succeed try and try again. Toddlers are notorious for liking one food for a week and then turning around and refusing it the next. Keep offering and re-offering new foods every few weeks.

By Karen Inge – Accredited Practising Dietitian