One frustrating part of parenting is toddlerhood. Common reason is most toddlers come to a point in their lives that some foods won’t be as appealing as it was before to them worst is they won’t any foods at all. Parents find it worrisome as their kids don’t get the enough nutrients they need from their foods particularly when their toddlers refuse to eat healthy food but tend to eat a lot of snacks like junk foods and the likes.
This phenomenon in toddlerhood is common and could have plenty of reasons for it to happen. One is that your toddler’s appetite varies constantly due to his or her growth spurts and different physical activities. Another is that they are not growing at the same speed as babies so they need lesser food intake. In addition to those, your toddlers minimizes their attention span on foods since there are a lot of things around them in which they spend their interest and lastly, toddlers have high tendencies of pushing their own boundaries and showing others how independent they can be. As said, these reasons can be the cause of their sudden dislike to food and also their unstable interest on foods too. For instance, your toddlers may like this food for today but refuses to eat it for he doesn’t like it the next day. That is a common toddler behaviour that brings frustrations t most parents.
When this unstable appetite is being acted by your toddlers, as a parent, you can have your own gimmicks to make them eat the food you have or at least make them eat. You can try decreasing how much you give your toddlers to eat since it is normal for them to have small portions during mealtimes. Also, one huge mistake of parents is forcing their toddlers to finish everything on the child’s plate which results to have the toddlers think that every mealtime is stressful. Instead of forcing it, praise your kid every time he takes a spoonful of food to his mouth.
In cases where you offer your toddlers healthy snacks during snack time, no worries if he or she does not want to eat much during regular mealtime since the snacks they have taken will help them keep going for the day. Also, with you offering them to healthy foods to eat, there is nothing to worry about if they will starve. They won’t. Children their age are a very good in indicating whether they need more food or not. Lastly, observing your toddlers appetite at least for a week is a good way for you to judge the daily amount of food he eats. You might think if he or she eats less today, he might be hungrier tomorrow. However, if your kid has enough energy to play, he might be eating the amount of food enough for him or her.
Rarely, the appetite of your child might be affected by some other health factors. If you want to make sure that your toddlers are completely fine even after refusing food for quite some time, have your child checked by a child and family health nurse or an Accredited Practising Dietician.
Tips to make your child eat more
When children get to an age where they can think and decide of what food they want to eat or not, it is best that you keep them offering new foods to get their interest. Trying new foods is one of the best ways to have them try to eat the meals he had missed.
Another is to create positive eating environment with their presence. Making mealtimes a happy, regular, and social family occasion where you sit together with your toddlers and eat with the whole family. By this, you and the other members of the family sitting on that table will have a chance to show your child how eating the food you have prepared is very enjoyable. Another is to have them try to get involved in preparing and cooking the meals of the family. With this, their interest on food will heightened as they will get curious on how the food they made tastes like.
Offering new kind of foods to them also is a good thing especially when done if your toddler is relaxed and is not distracted by other things. Setting a time limit of about 20 minutes per meal also helps. If your child hasn’t eaten or even touched their food, take it away and never offer an alternative snack or meal. Not giving them food may sound cruel but they have to know that meal time is not forever. However, refrain from giving any punishments when your toddler refuses to eat the foods you are offering, particularly the new ones for this may turn tasting new foods into a negative thing to them.
Another is that avoid bribing your toddler for them to eat. This is a common mistake for parents but a big no-no. Bribing them with treats or toys just so he will eat some healthy foods you serve them would make them more interested in the treats than the food you are offering. Worst case scenario is that you might send him an implication that eating healthy food is a chore.
In terms of what to serve your child, it is best to give them similar foods the whole family in the dining is having. Your toddler will get the nutritional benefits of a wide range of foods and also accept new tastes and textures as normal. Offering your child new foods that he already knows and likes is a good thing too and keep on offering them new foods for it would normally take them 10-15 tries until your toddler accepts and enjoy these foods given to him. If he refuses something you offered, try offering it again to them after a week or so had passed and see how they might gobble it up and would even want more.
Last but not the least, follow your child’s lead. Let them touch, lick, and play with the food you gave them since it is their way of exploring these foods. Allow them to have a little mess since they are still in the process of learning to eat on their own. Give them the sense of independence by allowing them to eat on their own and help them only if he needs it or asks for it. In times where your child seems cranky and uninterested, take the food away for they won’t be able to it those anyway. Once you’ve found out what your toddler wants to eat, it can be a little tempting to keep giving this to them. However, keep in mind that your toddler needs to eat different variations of foods to let them have all the nutrients they would need for their growth and development. Thus, it is more important to offer and give them different kinds of foods and give his or her favourite food as an extra once in a while as recognition for his or her good job on eating those foods.