Fussy eating is one of the most common feeding problems. However, you’ll be pleased to know that being a fussy eater is just a passing phase in your toddler’s development.
Some toddlers are fussier than others. A very fussy eater may be in a family of two or more children. Even in cases where parents have treated all their children in the same way, one toddler may be still become noticeably picky about eating. Whereas some parents have toddlers who continue to eat well throughout this stage, and are often blissfully unaware that this developmental stage even exists.
However, if you’re the mum of a toddler who’s very cautious about trying new foods, you’ll probably find it quite exasperating. Just try to remember it’s not your toddler’s fault that they’re cautious and wary of new foods, and your reaction can make things worse, such as:
But there is good news. Pre-school children’s eating habits often improve dramatically once they begin eating with other children at nursery or school.
Ask your healthcare professional to measure your toddler’s weight and height accurately on calibrated scales, and plot them on growth charts. You may find your child is growing normally, and eating a small amount is actually enough.
Record all the food and drinks your toddler eats. Then have them assessed by a dietician to see if they’re adequate and to find out if you toddler needs a vitamin and mineral supplement to make up any shortfall.
Check the number of drinks your toddler is having. Some toddlers prefer drinking to eating and readily fill themselves up with drinks. About six to eight drinks of 3 to 4 fl oz is enough. If you’re still serving drinks in bottles, your toddler may be filling up with too much fluid and won’t have enough appetite for food.
Some toddlers refuse meals in order to be given snacks instead, which tend to be high in fat, sugar and salt. There’s little incentive for a toddler to eat an appropriate meal when allowed to fill up on snacks. So, try to cut down snacks to just two per day and make them nutritious – fruit or small sandwiches are great choices.
Limit meal time sessions to between 20 and 30 minutes and always offer one food that you’re sure your toddler will eat.
A consistent approach is essential when eating. So everyone who cares for your child - including relatives and child minders – needs to stick to the same plan. Nobody should threaten or force your child to eat specific foods. If a food offered at meal times is rejected, simply take it away without comment. And don’t substitute it with more food before the next planned snack or meal.
A very small number of children don’t grow out of this phase and continue to restrict the foods they eat throughout childhood. But if your child eats enough of the food they like to sustain their energy, and take a vitamin and mineral supplement to address any deficiencies, development will continue normally.
Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance. Philips AVENT cannot be held responsible for any damages that result from the use of the information provided on this website.