While children are growing, they tend of go through eating phases. One week they may only want peanut butter and crackers, the next foods can’t touch, or maybe a certain color is out. Although challenging for parents, this is quite common for children. There are stages in a child’s mental development when certain colors, textures, and mixtures will be appealing and times when they will not. As a parent, it is important to understand this is normal behavior, but there are steps you can take to help reduce the chance of continuing this picky behavior.
Before their first birthday, children are growing fast. Their growth slows down between the ages of 1 and 3. Since they are growing less, they don’t need as much food. They may be less interested in food, which can worry parents. You doctor will check their growth and will let you know if it is not normal.
Toddlers are also becoming more independent and they want to use this independence. They may also be nervous to try new foods. They may want to see, touch, smell, and think about it several times before actually trying it. It may take time, but slowly offering new foods results in a better outcome than forcing or bribing a child to try new foods.
Parent and Child Roles
|Buy and prepare food||Decides to eat|
|Decide meals times||Decides what to eat|
|Offer regular meals and snacks||Decides how much to eat|
|Provide a pleasant environment|
Learning good food habits is a life skill that can help your child live a healthy, satisfying life. Children watch what you eat and drink. Therefore, be a good role model for your child by eating healthy yourself. Watch what you say and do. When trying new foods, your children are going to look to you and your other family members first. If someone at the table makes a disgusted face or says “gross,” your toddler is going to copy them.
- Remove distractions. Toddlers are easily distracted. Providing a quiet and calm environment can encourage them to focus on the meal.
- Involve them! Give them tasks when preparing the meal.
- Allow them to handle and prepare new foods is a great way to get them interested.
- Toddlers eat with their eyes first. Cutting or making foods into fun shapes can excite them.
- A meal that contains multiple colors and a variety of foods from each of the food groups (breads and grains, protein foods, fruits, vegetables, and dairy) will help meet your child’s growth and activity needs.