Mommy Deepti Saini has written to us about her 19 months old baby who refuses to eat and only wants milk. She has tried giving him calcium and syrups for low appetite but failed.
Your toddler may experience this in life, partly because of a temporary mental condition called food neophobia. This is a fear of tasting new food, which naturally leads to reluctance to try them. Most children will experience neophobia around the age of two. It’s definitely a phase, as we all have gone through the same thing when we were a child. But your child’s changeable nature can be a source of exasperation, especially when you try to feed your toddler a balanced diet. In short, your child has become the dreaded “picky eater.”
In Toddlers mealtimes are more about tantrums, screaming and bribery than healthy eating. Fussy eating is a normal phase in toddler’s development. Do not get anxious about mealtimes. This might make the problem worse, particularly if you are expecting your toddler to eat more than he needs. You’ll probably experience bad days, when your toddler refuses foods he usually likes. Try not to fret too much about what your toddler eats at a single meal, or in a single day. Instead, think about what your toddler eats over a week.
Try these tips for making mealtimes run smoothly
- Eat as a family when you can – Eat with your toddler as often as possible, at these shared meals eat the same food you are willing, your toddler to have. They learn to eat new foods by watching and copying parents.
- Make positive comments about the food you are eating. You’re a role model for your toddler. If you make positive comments about food, such as “This is yummy!”, your toddler may be more willing to try it.
- Praise your toddler when he eats well, because toddlers respond positively to praise. If you only give him attention when he is not eating, he may start to refuse food just to get some attention from you. Toddlers like attention, even if it is negative.
- Allow your toddler to touch his food, play with it if he wants to, and make a mess as well. Toddlers enjoy having the control of feeding themselves with on their own.
- Work out a daily routine of meals and snacks that fits around your toddler’s sleep pattern. Your toddler won’t eat well if he gets over-hungry. Your toddler might also be reluctant to eat if he’s tired. Give your toddler a small snack or drink before naps. Save his proper meals until after he has woken from a nap.
- Keep your toddler interested – At lunch and dinner offer your toddler a savoury course followed by a sweet course. After one course, he might be bored with too much of one taste and ready to try something new.
- Give small portions. Toddlers can be overwhelmed by big platefuls and lose their appetite. If your toddler finishes his small portion, praise him and offer him more.
- Offer a variety of healthy food choices and let your toddler feed herself. This way she gets to exercise a little independence.
- Don’t take something off the menu if she doesn’t like it. Kids are slow to accept new tastes and textures, so if she spits out green beans the first time, try making them again the following week. She may surprise you and decide that’s her new favorite food. And be patient: You may have to offer a new food many times before she’s willing to make it a regular part of her diet.
- Don’t coax, bribe or plead to your toddler to eat more – A little gentle encouragement is OK, but never insist that he finishes everything on his plate.
- Don’t offer large drinks of milk an hour before a meal – Large drinks will reduce your toddler’s appetite. If he is thirsty, give him water instead.
- Don’t assume that because your toddler has refused food he will never eat it again – Taste changes with time. Some toddlers need to be offered a new food 10 and 15 times before they feel confident to try it.
- Don’t feel guilty if one meal turns into a disaster – You and your toddler are both on a learning curve. Your toddler is learning to try new flavours and textures, and you are learning to cope with tricky mealtimes.
If you are really concerned about your toddler’s eating habits, make a list of all the food and drink he has over a week. Check that your toddler has had food from the four main groups. These are starchy foods, protein, dairy produce and fruit and vegetables. If you know your toddler has eaten foods from each group, you don’t need to worry.
With Special Tanks to:
Shubhra Arya , Preeti Parashar, Sonam Rathi, Siji Samuel , Priya Thiagaraj, Deepti Sharma, Namita-Nandini Yogesh Patil, Nishu Jain Garg , Muktha Venkataraman, Pooja Agarwal, Falguni Maheshwari, Shubham Manawat, Sumedha, Vidita Tayal, Bindu Nanda, Vinod Dabral, Deep Brinderjeet Saini, Shweta Sule-Bapat, Christina Harijan, Sindu Anand, Priya Garg, Harsha Rajiv, Rupali Saha, Devika Sahajwani, Laura Visirin-Jain, Pallavi Kocharekar Dabgotra, Priya Bhatia, Shikha Singh, Pallavi Singh