Managing Choosy Eaters
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Choosy, fussy and picky are labels for the eating norm of toddlers as they are developing food preferences. It's also when we see their fickle side. Yesterday's favorite food might hit the floor today, or snubbed food might suddenly become the best loved. They may eat one or two preferred foods for weeks – and nothing else.
Try not to get frustrated by this typical toddler behavior. With time, your child's appetite and eating behaviors will level out. Here are some tips to help you through the picky eater stage while introducing healthy food habits.
Family style. Share a meal as a family as often as you can. Mealtime means no distractions like TV or cell phones. Serve one meal for the whole family and resist the urge to make another meal if your child refuses what you've served.
Food fights. If your toddler refuses a meal, avoid fussing over it. It's good for children to learn to listen to their bodies and use hunger as a guide. It's a parent's responsibility to provide food and the child's decision to eat it. Pressuring kids to eat, or punishing them if they don't, can make them dislike foods they may otherwise like.
Break from bribes. Tempting as it may be, try not to bribe your children with treats for eating other foods.
Try, try again. Just because a child refuses a food once, don't give up. It can take 10 or more times trying a food before a toddler's taste buds accept it. Limit snacks and have a set mealtime - it helps if your child is hungry when introducing a new food.
Make food fun. Toddlers are especially open to trying foods prepared in creative ways. Make foods look irresistible by arranging them in fun, colorful and recognizable shapes. Toddlers usually enjoy any food involving a dip and finger foods.
"Cut solid foods into bite-size pieces they can easily eat themselves, making sure the pieces are small enough to avoid the risk of choking," said Kevin Frank, M.D., Family Medicine, Genesis Primary Care - Somerset. "Avoid introducing processed foods, instead prepare protein sources and serve fruits and vegetables, so you know your child is getting all the necessary nutrients to grow and develop."
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