Is your Toddler a fussy eater or not eating well at mealtimes?
Did you know the amount of food a toddler eats can vary massively at this stage with some eating only one good meal a day and others eating 3 substantial meals and snacks!
A child’s appetite changes with the rate of growth, metabolism and natural appetite. Work with this and understand that natural appetite isn’t fussy eating, although it could be a result of pushing food by offering too many food alternatives and snacks between meals to make up for the lack of eating at mealtimes.
Portion size can also contribute to behaviour. The portion you offer at each meal should be realistic and achievable to eat and finish. As a nation, our portion size has increased massively and I regularly see toddlers faced with adult sized meals. Give smaller achievable quantities and then give seconds if needed rather than overwhelming your child with too much food.
Fussy eating can be put down to behaviour or routine. Offering too many alternative foods at mealtimes or snacks between meals can often sabotage meals. Here is a classic scenario…
Your child rejects the lovely meal you’ve made on a regular basis which usually goes down a treat! After a few mouthfuls it’s rejected. In a bid to get your child eating you end up offering other options, this in itself is encouraging fussiness. You could also be entertaining your Toddler with screens, music or toys in a bid to distract and get her eating? This may work for a few days or weeks but then can unfortunately lead to taking the focus off the meal and losing interest which again can also encourages fussy eating.
After an unsuccessful meal, your child wants snacks or you offer unwanted snacks to calm or to ensure food intake throughout the day which puts a dent in your child’s appetite and again, you guessed it, increased fussiness at mealtimes.
If your Toddler’s mealtimes are challenging and having frequent tantrums at the table?
1. Decrease portion size. Making sure this is homemade healthy and complete meals of protein, carbs, fat and veggies.
2. Stop all snacking.
3. Don’t offer alternative foods but do give food you know your child likes while working on the fussy eating issue.
4. Do sit with your child and give your child your attention when needed during meals. If you are sitting feeding and engaging during meals, ideally eat with them for breakfast and lunch.
5. Turn off or put away your phone.
6. Have set mealtime manners and rules.
Any behaviour you find unacceptable and not wanting to encourage? Such as throwing food on the floor: Ignore to start with, if the game starts or tantrum happens again, give a 1,2,3 warning then take the food away or stop the meal. Pardon the pun but never feed negative behaviour or tantrums.
For your personalised plan please contact me or head over to my Toddler Sleep & Behaviour consultancy page.