|Written by Dr. Hillary|
Busy toddlers might not be able to sit through a meal. They may also be afraid to try new foods, or refuse to eat in order to maintain control over their environment. Here are some strategies that might make family meals more enjoyable:
Offer small and frequent meals to make sure that your child gets all the necessary nutrients, but does not feel overwhelmed by the amount of food.
Serve meals and snacks at the same time of day. Toddlers need routine, and you should expect them to cooperate.
Provide 2-3 food choices at snack and meal times to give your child a sense of control.
Let your child develop food preferences at her own pace. Research shows that some children need to be exposed to certain foods several times before they try to eat them, so be patient!
Resist the urge to prepare your child’s favorite foods most of the time, as it will only promote picky eating.
Schedule snacks between meals so that your child eats every four hours or so. That will prevent irritability due to hunger or low blood sugar.
Make meals a family time. Sit together at the table during meals. Expect your toddler to do the same. Research shows that eating meals as a family has a positive effect on the quality of a child’s diet. It also teaches the child to make good food choices in the future.
Turn off the TV! During meals, your toddler should concentrate on eating only.
Offer milk during meals and snacks for the total of 16-24 ounces a day. Between meals, offer water. Four ounces of juice can be given to your child a day, but dilute it with water. However, since juice provides mainly empty calories, water is the hydrating fluid of choice.
Don’t get frustrated. Incorporate some of these strategies and your child’s pickiness will improve with time.
6 years ago