Dealing with Picky Eating: 5 Effective Ways to Overcome a Toddler’s Food Phase

As toddlers explore autonomy and assert independence, they often test it by eating or not eating meals that you provide for them. It is completely normal for your toddler to love scrambled eggs one week and shun them altogether the following one – something all parents have experienced at some point during this age group!

As long as your child is progressing as expected and growing at an appropriate pace, these feeding behaviors shouldn’t cause concern.

Here, we explore five essential tips that will help you navigate this stage–and when to be concerned that a child’s picky eating may go beyond simply being part of an age-related normality cycle.

At approximately 15-18 months, it is not unusual for your “perfect” eater to become more selective and only prefer certain carbohydrates at this age. This process usually occurs slowly over several months or years and should continue beyond this point in life.

Small children do not require as much food during this stage since their growth slows significantly.

By age 2, toddlers should typically be eating three healthy meals and two snacks daily – approximately 1,000 Calories on average are required daily by 2 year-old children (male or female).

Keep meal times stress-free (no matter the difficulty). Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian and family therapist, developed the “Division of Responsibility” model, where parents determine when, what, where and how often the child eats while the latter determines how much to consume.

Parent’s roles in feeding their child(ren) include creating and providing food, offering it at meal and snack times (excluding water), leading by example and not catering specifically to individual child needs.

She believes children will instinctively consume only what their bodies need and manage their food intake autonomously.

Image 2246–Make mealtimes engaging by including your child at mealtimes. Use cookie cutters, dipping sauces, muffin trays or bite-sized portions, colorful plates or natural food coloring as tools to engage them and ensure enjoyable dining experiences.

Try offering food in different forms: steamed, roasted or with your child’s preferred dipping sauce — even allow her to create her own fun food combinations!

Add interest and fun to meal preparation by including your child in food preparation activities or inviting them along while grocery shopping with you.

Choose a color day. On “pink days,” for instance, enjoy beets, strawberries, salmon and watermelons as part of a healthy lunch menu.

Encourage your child to try new foods multiple times. Don’t become frustrated if their initial attempts fail; offer small portions with familiar dishes for comparison purposes and see how their taste evolves over time! You never know, they might end up enjoying food they initially disapproved of!

At mealtimes, there’s no reason for you to become your child’s personal chef; doing so could only increase his/her pickiness. Instead, offer two healthy alternatives and, if rejected by him/her, just try again tomorrow.

Toddlers won’t starve even if they miss one meal from time to time.

Avoid distractions during mealtimes such as television and tablets.

Serving meals and snacks regularly at a table with others will keep them on track with eating healthily and helps ensure you’re meeting daily caloric requirements without snacking between meal times on sweetened caloric drinks such as juice or sodas.

Role model behavior that you wish to see from your children. For instance, if they eat vegetables at lunch time as expected by you, serve yourself some too.

Stressful emotions will rub off on both parties involved, making meal times potentially trying experiences for all! If this situation arises, everyone may become anxious or hostile at some point during the experience!

Keep tabs on your child’s growth. If you feel your child may be eating too much or too little, speak to his/her pediatrician immediately so he/she can review their daily consumption and suggest solutions.

Pediatricians will measure your child’s height and weight using a growth chart in order to ascertain if they fall within their respective percentile ranges.

Current recommendations regarding which growth chart to utilize depend on your child’s age.

World Health Organization (WHO) growth charts are now recommended from birth through two years, while Centers for Disease Control (CDC) growth charts may be utilized between two and 18 years of age.

If your child does not appear to be growing according to expectations for his/her age or has experienced sudden weight percentile drops, a pediatrician may recommend conducting an intake evaluation and conducting a history review in order to ascertain any additional testing that might be required.