Bub being fussy when it comes to mealtime? Picky eating is so common, particularly for toddlers and preschoolers, perhaps, even with adolescents. Feeding toddlers and kids is hard.
We have some pointers to help expand your bub's food horizons, avoid the picky-eating trap, identify special feeding needs, and put joy back into mealtimes.
Getting onto the behaviours of picky eating early is important when your child first starts on his or her food journey. This can benefit overall health, motor skills, and even cognitive and emotional development.
Creating a pressure free environment and managing your expectations of them exploring and learning about new foods is a sure way to encourage them to broaden their palettes. There are many learning curves that are an important part of this process too. This includes allowing them to feel hunger and feigning indifference.
This is where babies can learn consequential outcomes of their decisions but its equally also a space in which trust needs to be put in them. This goes for their food consumption amounts, letting them self feed and overall just getting a bit messy!
Eating together at the table and free from other distractions, aids in your baby attributing feeding around moments in which they are closer to you or family. This is so important when they take steps to actively exposing themselves to a variety flavours and textures.
Like adults, trying something new can be scary, but with support and help creating a positive mindset, your little one will be reaching for all the broccoli 🥦🤪, right into adulthood! Have a swipe at our useful tips and tricks.
No pressure meals
Tired of all the effort it takes to just get your toddler to take a bite or your older child to eat, start with “no-pressure” meals. Let your child decide how much or whether they want to eat or not. By giving them a choice it helps them to learn to like more foods over time!
Here are some examples of what pressure looks like:
- “Just try one more bite.”
- “You have to eat it, or you can’t go out to play.”
- “You will make mum very happy if you try a bite.”
- “You can have dessert as soon as you try this food.”
When your child is not eating No pressure meals will feel uncomfortable at first, but it does get easier. The goal is to create a pleasant and inviting eating environment so they can learn to like food and feel comfortable trying new and different flavours.
The Kitchen has open and closed hours
Do you have a grazer? It’s easy especially with a picky eater to let them freely eat all day - hey they’re eating so you feel like its a win. The problem is this can backfire as they are less likely to feel hunger and therefore much less willing to try new foods.
Instead of letting them decide to eat whenever they want, open the kitchen at certain times. Then close the kitchen when snack time or mealtime is over. Having a toddler eating schedule or a schedule for older kids, can make a huge difference.
Sit down to eat
Sitting down helps picky eaters eat. It’s tempting to have short term fixes such as eating in front of the TV but in the long term this will not fix the problem. Having specific spaces where you sit down to eat helps kids to slow down and listen to their bodies which enables them to eat better.
Grown ups set the menu
It’s normal for parents with picky eaters to be constantly worried about their child’s nutrition, so of course you will feed your child what you know they will eat. However, your job is to serve balanced meals and snacks. It’s their job to decide whether they will eat and how much they will eat.
Make food fun
Kids love to play so make mealtimes fun with a bit of creativity. For those foods that you know are a little bit scary trying using a cookie cutter and creating fun shapes or maybe using a toothpick to skewer foods to make characters.
For many kids involving them in the process of making food can actually help them feel more involved in mealtime and more likely to eat.
Just remember the solids journey is long and can seem a little daunting for both mum and bub but we are here to support you along the way. Join our village today and let us take the hard work out of mealtime so you can enjoy the moments.