Healthy Tips To Make Picky Eating Toddler Eat – To make a picky eating toddler eat healthy food is very challenging and becomes an important task for most parents today. A child needs to be instilled with the idea that healthy eating habit is their responsibility. Parents being their role models help little ones to follow their footsteps in eating healthy food. “Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” —Fran Leibowitz. Learning to stay healthy by eating well doesn’t require a difficult algorithm, it’s just being smart about your eating habits.
How to make picky eating toddler eat healthily?
This one question comes to the mind of every parent when their toddler begins to show signs of being a picky eater. There is nothing to worry about this picky eating habit. Every child goes to this stage of selective appetite. When feeding toddlers, they are the boss. Well, it is the parents’ job to make sure the boss gets impressed by the food served to him. The number of servings doesn’t matter much if a child is eating healthy food. Sometimes toddlers can stop or reduce food intake, but their appetite will improve as they grow up.
It is understood that convincing toddlers to eat healthily is not that easy. A picky eating habit begins when a child starts to feed himself and the child becomes physically active like playing, exploring new toys, muttering words, jumping and climbing. They tend to stick to one or a few of their favorite food as new changes happen both physically and mentally in their bodies. It is a good idea for parents to try more than 15 times the same food prepared as different dishes.
Here are some healthy tips for picky eating toddlers
Serve healthy food for meals and snacks
Develop a healthy eating habit in toddlers by including more dairy, whole wheat, rice, pulses, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. A toddler usually has 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. The serving portions are very small, and they need 2 snacks in between meals to keep them feeling full. Snacks need to be healthy by including more fruits or yogurt.
The portion size of food varies with the age of kid since the stomach of a toddler will be the size of the child’s fist. Serving size can be calculated depending on the age of the child. For example, the 3-year child will need 3 tablespoon portion size of each food group. The calorie requirement for toddlers will be 1000 to 1500 calories per day and varies with each kid depending on their physical activity. Stick to a healthy diet though your toddler may be a picky eater. Eventually, they will grow out of this picky eating habit and continue to eat nutritious food.
Avoid Fructose Sugar and Preservatives
Avoid feeding food containing high fructose sugar and preservatives. Let your recipes be more homemade and natural. If a toddler is weaned to cow’s milk or started weaning to cow’s milk include more solid food in her menu. They need these extra vitamins and minerals for the healthy development of bones and teeth. There are different milk brands in the store, choose the right one for your child after consulting your pediatrician. Raw cow’s milk should be boiled and cooled thoroughly before feeding your toddler. Picky eating or sticking to one favorite food is quite possible at this age.
Prepare special recipes to lure picky eating toddlers
Studies show when new food is introduced it must be tried more than 15 times before a toddler accepts it. Prepare recipes with the same food and include them in snacks or mealtimes. The meal should be more like what parents eat. In this way, a child will start developing an interest in trying other food groups. In the case of vegetarians try to include more beans, legumes, dairy products and soy for protein needs. Non-vegetarians can add eggs, meat, and marine food in their toddler’s menu. Fruits, vegetables and dried nuts can include mealtime or snacks. It is good for a toddler to have some fat sources like ghee or butter as those extra calories needed for physical activities.
Toddler food portion size for each food group per day
serving size (1-2 years) 2-3
serving size (2- 3 years) 4-5
1 serving size 1/3rd cup boiled Rice or pasta, 1 roti, ½ cup dry cereals or 4 whole-grain biscuits or crackers
serving size (1-2 years) 2-3, 1/2 boiled egg
serving size (2- 3 years) 3-5, 1 boiled egg
1 serving size 3-4 tablespoon meat like chicken, meat or fish,2 tablespoon beans and legumes (6-8 tablespoon for vegetarians), 1tablespoon nut butter, 1 ½ tablespoon nuts or dried fruits.
Fruits and vegetables
serving size (1-2 years) ½ – 1
serving size (2- 3 years) 1-1 ½
1 serving size ½ cup to 1 cup cooked or raw vegetables, ½ of a small fruit
serving size (1-2 years) 3
serving size (2- 3 years) 3
1 serving size ½ to 1/3rd cup milk or yogurt and 1 tablespoon cheese
Water/juice 1 to 2 liter of water and fresh juices
serving size (1-2 years) ½ to 1
serving size (2- 3 years) 1-3
1 serving size 1-2 tablespoon of ghee, butter, and oil.
2. Parents should be a role model for their kids
Kids at a younger age follow their parents, particularly eating habits. So, be a role model and practice eating nutritious food.
- Eat the same fruit or vegetable which your toddler is eating for mealtimes.
- Most of the time kids watch and learn things so, plan mealtime to be a family time together.
- Give enough attention to your little one and look for signs like pushing food plates away, spilling food or less interest in eating, because this way toddler says they are full and not hungry anymore.
- Don’t force or push them hard to clean their plate, they may start to feel mealtime frustrating and boring.
- Make mealtime a happy hour for your picky eating toddler.
3. Follow strict time for meal and snack
Toddler feels hungry throughout the day because of their physical activity and growth. They need those extra calories to keep them active throughout the day. 3 meals and 2-3 snack time will likely be the same routine for all toddlers. Follow strict time and regular time for both meals and snacks. If they skip a meal and don’t eat well in one meal just give them food in the next mealtime.
Continue to give snacks in between meals and don’t give a cracker or a cup of milk just before lunch or dinner. This will create a feeling of fullness and subdue their hunger. Regularity with lunch and dinner time will help kids know when they feel hungry, food will be only provided at certain times in a day. Eating on demand will never help the kids know their signs for hunger. Motivate the whole family to appreciate the new food or meal preparation, so the little picky eating one gets inspired to eat.
4. Let toddlers feed themselves
A toddler is an age when they start exploring the world around them. Feeding themselves with their own hand,fork or spoon will help them develop more enthusiasm towards food. They will also learn to master the skill of holding a spoon. Using a finger to pick finger food is a great idea to make toddler eat a nutritious and delicious. Finger foods are the best way to introduce most of the fruits and vegetables. Make sure they start with food that is squishable between their fingers. At 2 years they will be eating little different textured foods. To avoid choking or gaging don’t feed them hard textured food like carrots, whole grape or a nut, unripe banana or very sticky food like nut butter. Always monitor toddlers and be alert when they are feeding themselves.
To start with best finger food would be
- shredded apples and carrots
- (oranges, strawberries, grapes, cucumber) are diced and cut to very small pieces
- shredded cheese
- boiled eggs diced to smaller pieces
- mashed banana
- (cauliflower, broccoli) can be diced to smaller pieces and steam cooked.
5. Parents should not bargain or bribe kids
Food aversion and picky eating habits are very common in toddlers. It is very challenging for parents to make sure their child gains weight and maintains healthy body development. If you have a picky eating toddler do not plead or bargain or bribe him about eating. Many parents tend to bribe them with candy or a dessert after they clean up their plates. This kind of bribery will make kids more interested in candy rather than nutritious food served for dinner. Do not threaten kids about eating because threatening causes kids to be more emotionally attached to food. It’s a kind of power struggle between parent and kid. Keep trying new food, one at each time and prepare the same food as different recipes.
6. Avoid using electronic gadgets at the dining table
Kids should not watch any kind of digital gadgets or television at the dining table. They will become more interested in electronics and loose interest in food. Make sure they pay attention and stay focused at mealtime. Make mindful eating a rule for adults and children compulsory, avoid using electronic gadgets, phones and watch television during family mealtime. Playing, while eating food should also be avoided this way picky eating habits in kids can be reduced.
7. Add Creativity to toddler food
Toddlers like more colorful and food served with fun. Try to add creativity to the food and presentation. For example, make a pancake in shape of flower and salad (fruits and vegetables) placed as a smiley face or sandwiches or roti cut to the shape of the sun or star will create enthusiasm and make even a fussy toddler eat. This is more effective when new food is introduced or unfamiliar food.
8. Let toddler decide the menu and participate in cooking
Give unlimited freedom, let toddlers decide the food (vegetables or fruits) during grocery shopping. This will be fun and easy to accept the new fruit or vegetable. They will take pride in their food choice and relish the meal. Another awesome way is to let kids choose the recipe and let them participate in cooking dinner.
9. Introduce one food at a time and keep trying
When introducing new fruit, vegetable or food, make sure it is one at each time. Mix unfamiliar food with familiar food and keep trying them in different recipes. Kids don’t accept new food on the first try, it may take 10-15 times of trying before accepting a new food.
10. Plan a picnic with homemade lunch
Plan a picnic with homemade lunch during weekends. This will differ from the monotonous way of eating at home. Toddler will be finding it to be more enjoyable and fun while eating outside at a park. Potluck with family friends and their kids will also be a good idea. Kids get motivated to eat when they watch other kids eat nutritious food.
11. Dipping food in a sauce a good choice
Kids will find it fun when dipping food in sauces or yogurt. For example, dipping chopped vegetables in yogurt or homemade ketchup or tomato puree will be fun and playful for the kids. Dipping sauces like less spicy green chutney, tomato puree, yogurt, peanut dips, cucumber or carrot with yogurt and low-fat cream are some healthy choices for dipping sauce.
12. Encourage your toddler to appreciate the food
Encourage your toddler to appreciate the food by its color, taste, texture, and smell. Speak to your child about how sweet or salty, is it hot or cold. Maybe giving thumbs up for the food served will cheer little one up and stay focused on the food.
13. Be patient and keep trying healthy food
Stay patient and listen to your child. Don’t feel sensitive or saddened when your child refuses to eat the food. It has got nothing to do with your culinary skills. Many picky eating toddlers show aversion or avoid new food or new flavor in a recipe. Remember as grownups we were picky eater too and over time thing changed and we picked up a good appetite. Stop worrying about your child’s fussy eating habits, as long they are active, gain healthy weight and eat nutritious food. Soon they will grow out this fussy eating habit but keep trying new recipes and introducing a new food. In case of less weight gain consult your pediatrician about foods that can be included in the diet.
14. Add flavor and color to food
The idea of adding flavor which your color likes will make food more tempting for little ones. Studies show kid’s favorite color is blue, you could include blueberry in your recipe. In this way, healthy color is added in kids’ diet. There are other examples like strawberries and watermelon for red and pink, fresh oranges for orange food color. Flavor can be anything appetizing like vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom. Bring in your creativity that pleases your child, but every food introduced may be needed to try for a few times. Generally, picky eating toddlers will be enthusiastic when they see their favorite color in food. So, prepare healthy delights with your kids’ favorite flavor and color.
15. Keeping food portions small and mealtime short for picky eaters
Toddlers need to have meals in small portions of each food group. Include healthy food on the plate and let them feel hungry before mealtime. In this way, they learn to eat healthy food when hungry. Picking eating in toddlers is increased when mealtime extends beyond 10 minutes. Try to keep mealtime shorter and fun for kids not to overwhelmed about eating.