Feeding a Fussy Eater
If it seems like your toddler is always trying to get out of meals, rest assured, when they are hungry they will eat! Some toddlers graze all day, which makes them less hungry at meal times, others don’t want to take time away from playing. The most important thing to remember is to relax. If you have real concerns or they are losing weight, then of course it is important to speak to their physician, but usually your toddler is just being a toddler.
It’s extremely important not to turn mealtime into the most dreaded time of the day. When that happens, there are no winners. Below you will find some strategies for getting your fussy eater to finally eat!
- Prepare finger foods like finger sandwiches, fish sticks, vegetables slices, pieces of fruit, crackers with cheese, slices of cheese, or little sausages.
- Use brightly colored plates and utensils, or plates and utensils with their favorite cartoon characters.
- Offer rewards for a successful mealtime, like a walk in the park or playing their favorite game. However, be sure not to use food as a reward.
- Get the whole family in on it. Make sure your child eats with the rest of the family. If they see everyone at the table, they may want to join in.
- If they spit their food out and protest, don’t punish them or yell. Instead, try to smile, take their plate away, and do not offer them anymore food until their next meal. Keep mealtime pleasant!
Sometimes, children lose their appetites following an illness. If this happens, there is no harm in offering your child their favorite food for a couple of meals. If you are worried, you can combine things like mashed fruit into their favorite yogurt or dessert to sneak in extra nutrients. Keep doing this at each meal and gradually introduce more foods until they are back to their normal diet. Remember to be sensitive to sore throats. Your child may not be eating what you are offering because it’s just too rough on their little throat. Try feeding them mashed potatoes, yogurt, or pudding and you may have more success!