Toddlers tend to naturally be picky eaters. There are many factors that affect a toddlers eating habits and one of them is being on the go. Many of them just don’t want to sit still long enough to eat. Plus, as they go into their second and third year their weight gain slows and they don’t need to eat as much so that may also play a role.
The doctors who write for Askdrsears.com have been practicing pediatric medicine for more than 30 years and have answered questions from thousands of parents. Check out some of their nutritional food ideas for picky eaters.
Offer A Nibble Tray
Toddlers like to graze their way through a variety of foods, so why not offer them a customized smorgasbord? The first tip from the Sears’ kitchen is to offer toddlers a nibble tray. Use an ice-cube tray, a muffin tin, or a compartmentalized dish, and put bite-size portions of colorful and nutritious foods in each section.
Become A Veggie Vendor
Plant a garden with your child. Let them help care for the plants, harvest the ripe vegetables, and wash and prepare them. They will probably be much more interested in eating what they helped to grow. Slip grated or diced vegetables into favorite foods. Try adding them to rice, cottage cheese, cream cheese, guacamole, or even macaroni and cheese. Zucchini pancakes are a big hit at our house, as are carrot muffins.
If your child is going through a picky eater stage, invite over a friend who is the same age or slightly older whom you know “likes to eat.” Your child will catch on. Group feeding lets the other kids set the example.
Respect Tiny Tummies
Keep food servings small. Wondering how much to offer? Here’s a rule of thumb – or, rather, of hand. A young child’s stomach is approximately the size of his fist. So dole out small portions at first and refill the plate when your child asks for more. This less-is-more meal plan is not only more successful with the picky eater, it also has the added benefit of stabilizing blood-sugar levels, which in turn minimizes mood swings. As most parents know, a hungry kid is generally not a happy kid.
Make It Accessible
Give your toddler shelf space. Reserve a low shelf in the refrigerator for a variety of your toddler’s favorite (nutritious) foods and drinks. Whenever she wants a snack, open the door for her and let her choose one. This tactic also enables children to eat when they are hungry, an important step in acquiring a healthy attitude about food.
Use Sit-Still Strategies
One reason why toddlers don’t like to sit still at the family table is that their feet dangle. Try sitting on a stool while eating. You naturally begin to squirm and want to get up and move around. Children are likely to sit and eat longer at a child-size table and chair where their feet touch the ground.
Turn Meals Upside Down
The distinctions between breakfast, lunch, and dinner have little meaning to a child, especially a picky eater. If your youngster insists on eating pizza in the morning or fruit and cereal in the evening, go with it – better than not eating at all. This is not to say you should become a short-order cook, filling lots of special requests, but why not let your toddler set the menu sometimes? Other family members will probably enjoy the novelty of waffles and hash browns for dinner.
Let Them Cook
Children are more likely to eat their own creations, so, when appropriate, let your picky eater help prepare the food. Use cookie cutters to create edible designs out of foods like cheese, bread, thin meat slices, or cooked lasagna noodles. Give your assistant jobs such as tearing and washing lettuce, scrubbing potatoes, or stirring batter. Put pancake batter in a squeeze bottle and let your child supervise as you squeeze the batter onto the hot griddle in fun shapes, such as hearts, numbers, letters, or even spell the child’s name.