The Dreaded Picky Eater

September 13, 2017

Spending time with my favourite little kids is always a delight. Only recently, when I go to visit my little buddy, his Mom really struggles with getting him to eat. She requested I do a little research to help her with this struggle and it works out, because then I can hopefully help others as well. Just know that you are not alone when having trouble getting your 1-3 year old to eat some healthy foods!

Toddlers are naturally picky eaters, between their different growth spurts, teething, and being on-the-go all the time they don’t like to sit down and eat a full meal. It can certainly be frustrating if you spend a bunch of time preparing healthy and what you think is appealing foods for your toddler, for it to only end up splattered on the floor. It is important not to react negatively or respond with any force feeding. Forms or praise, shame, guilt, or even bribes all result in putting pressure on the child or creating a negative feel around eating. Pressure only makes kids like food less. Allowing the child to control whether or how much to eat means that they can relax and tap into their internal needs to learn about, taste, and eventually eat more foods!

The Dreaded Picky Eater

Tips and Tricks 

  • Serve veggies all of the time and try them in different ways (raw, sliced, matchstick, roasted, puree’d)
  • Research recipes together
  • Grow some food of your own or take a trip to a local farm
  • Minimize distractions at the table
  • If your child’s feet dangle, try putting a stool under their feet to sit more still
  • Involve the child in preparation (like washing potatoes, setting the table, or picking out colourful veggies at the grocery store)
  • Use your dish as a serving dish to scoop food onto their plate (with their permission)
  • Make things in muffin tins (like hash browns, egg cups, mini muffins, Lentil cakes)
  • Offer a nibble tray (cheese blocks, apple slices, hard boiled eggs, celery and nut butter, steamed carrot sticks)
  • Offer a dip. Toddlers love dips!
  • Have spreads handy for crackers, rice cakes, or toast
  • Invite over a friend who is the same age or a little older that has good eating habits.
  • Have them decorate their own mini pizza or sandwich
  • Serve in small portions and make it a little fancy by making faces or serving on toy kitchen set
  • Make healthy snack accessible by having a low shelf where the child can help themselves with your permission

Just remember that the child’s stomach is only about the size of their fist. They may have eaten a lot between 6-12 months especially as they are growing so much at this age. It tends to slow down between ages 1-3 years. Approximately 1,000 to 1,300 calories a day is recommended.

It may be easier to aim for a well balanced week of food as opposed to a well balanced day. Kids sometimes like to eat a lot of one thing at a time and that should be okay, it is a stage they will grow out of. Don’t give up! Keep trying foods even if they may have turned it down last week. Also, try new foods earlier in the day when they may not be as tired or overly hungry. it may take a few tries before they even consider it. All the best to you and your toddlers on this eating adventure!

About the Author

Caleigh Anne Clark

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