Your babe is 10 months old and eating broccoli, spinach, curries and crusts... You're nailing it! You're pretty much a super parent and your babe just eats what you offer them. You smile smugly to yourself and think "I've got this". You head to family dinner, "Yes Aunty Mary, she's a great eater!"
A few months later, they start to say 'no' to a few foods. All good. It's ok for them not to want banana... They eat most things... You've still got a "good eater".
Then slowly but surely, the "No's" start to out weigh the "Yes's" and mealtimes start to become stressful. The colour of your toddler's diet becomes very beige... Yoghurt, bread and potato if you're lucky...
You're not alone, and we're here to tell you that it's completely normal.
Hey Doc. Thanks for chatting to us today. Firstly, is "Fussy" eating normal?
Yes, yes, yes! I can’t say this enough. After about 12 months of age most toddlers hit a fussy stage. It’s really normal for them to go off vegetables and meat in particular. But instead of panicking, it’s so crucial that we have a clear plan about how to manage this tricky phase.
Does the way you start introducing food make a difference? For example, baby lead weaning vs pureed foods?
Nope! Whether you use spoons or finger food doesn’t make your child any more or less fussy. BUT, if you can follow your child’s lead with feeding from the start, this helps your child to feel more confident around food. This is why I like the idea of baby-led feeding- respecting when they’ve had enough and trusting them to eat what they need to from what you provide.
What can we do if our toddlers are starting to become picky and resistant at mealtimes?
Firstly, remind yourself that this is a normal stage. Secondly, be confident about what your role is and what their role is. You provide and your child decides. It’s simple, but it’s also really hard to trust.
What can we do if our toddlers will only eat yoghurt pouches and fruit!?
This is something I get asked all the time. If this is happening to you then you’re definitely not alone. Firstly, remember that you’re in charge of when you provide fruit and yoghurt. As a general rule I recommend offering dairy products (including milk and yoghurt) 2-3 times a day, and offering fruit 2-3 times a day. But, I’d try to avoid offering fruit and yoghurt at all mealtimes. This actually makes your child more fussy, and doesn’t help them to learn to eat a range of foods.
How does getting toddlers involved in the kitchen actually help with fussy eating?
Prepping, chopping, mixing and cooking helps your toddler to get used to new foods, without pressure to eat them. If they can learn about the look, smell and feel in a fun way, then they’re much more likely to choose to taste them, without needing you to ‘make' them do it. This basically helps toddlers to feel more confident with new foods. I’d always suggest involving toddlers in cooking all sorts of food, and not just baking.
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What can we do if mealtimes have become a power struggle are just stressful for everyone?
We’ve got to take a step back for sure. No one wants to keep doing things that are stressful, toddlers included. But you also don’t have to make mealtimes a fun circus either. I’d encourage all parents to get clear on their roles at mealtimes (basically the big picture stuff like what’s on the menu and when the food is available), and let their little one do their job (basically listen to their body and eat what they need to be full). If you can keep mealtimes pressure-free (and that means no more bargaining over how many more bites of carrot) then it makes a huge difference.
What's your number one tip for toddler mealtimes?
Join Toddler Mealtimes! Other than that, I’d suggest making sure as the parent, you’re clear on what you’re responsible for and you can trust your toddler to eat as much as then need.
So there you have it - there's no gimmicks, no reward charts, no treats - it's actually quite easy! YOU decide what they are going to eat and THEY decide how much. Mealtimes don't need to be stressful and shouldn't involve power struggles or persuasion. Provide healthy and varied options and trust your toddler to know how much they need to eat to feel satisfied.
While you're here, check out our range of bamboo dinner ware - we don't guarantee it'll help your babe's to eat their broccoli but they sure look nice filled with an untouched dinner!