Picky Eaters and Toddlers

Life with toddlers is never dull. Especially if you have a picky eater. Let’s face it, meal times with toddlers aren’t normally relaxing at the best of times. Today we have Dr Orlena, a pediatric doctor turned weight and health coach, discussing why toddlers are picky eaters and what parents can do about young children that are picky eaters.

picky eaters and toddlers

You might also like these fun products to get fussy eaters to eat

Why Are Many Toddlers Picky Eaters? 

Many parents are surprised when their happy baby hits toddler hood. Often babies take to solids easily. They shove everything and anything in their mouths.

Overnight they change from happy eater to “I’m going to throw everything on the floor” toddler.

So what’s going on? Why won’t my toddler eat?

There are many reasons that toddlers refuse food. Sometimes their taste buds change. (Weird I know. My son ate bananas every day as a baby and now he won’t touch them. He’s 11 now!)

Often they want control. They want to say what goes in their mouths and what doesn’t.

The Danish refer to the “terrible twos” as the “boundary pushing age”. This really helps us to see their behaviour in a new light. They’re just exploring and working out were the limit is.

Many kids are scared of new foods. Anxiety in children is often not recognised by adults but it can play a large role in picky eating.

Related content:
Toddler emotions - how to help your toddler manage their feelings.
Toddler bedtime routine
Easy ways to connect with your child

What Can Parents Do About Toddlers that are Picky Eaters?

Many toddlers will just grow out of the “picky phase”. Others will continue to picky for far longer.

Either way there are several things parents can do.

  1. Don’t pressure them to eat. If you pressure them, they’ll dig their heals in and refuse. This is the quickest way to meal time battles. 
  2. Offer them healthy foods. Allow them to eat what they want. If everything you offer is healthy, you’ll be happy that they’ve eaten something healthy. (I often put out a limited portion of carbs as this is my children’s preferred food. They will happily eat just carbs which isn’t a balanced diet.) 
  3. Appropriate portions. Many people overestimate how much a toddler needs (especially of foods that are easy to eat such as Spaghetti Bolognese and cake.) A good rule of thumb is that a portion is what they can hold in their small hands. 
  4. Lots of fruit and vegetables and variety. Offer fruit and veggies at every eating opportunity. 
  5. Limit treats. I recommend one (appropriate sized) portion of something sweet such as a cookie once a day and one “extra sweet” such as candy once a week. Kids will happily live off sweets if we allow them to! 
  6. Include something they can eat. It doesn’t have to be their favourite food. Something that isn’t the equivalent of a plate of worms for them! 
  7. Keep to mealtimes. Don’t worry if they aren’t hungry and don’t want to eat. They will have another eating chance at the next meal time. 
  8. Healthy snacks. Think of snacks as “mini meals” rather than something that comes out of a packet. If your toddler is eating healthy foods all day, you won’t be worried about them eating their veggies at dinner time. 

This article was written by Dr Orlena, a pediatric doctor turned weight and health coach. She helps ambitious mothers lose weight by eating healthy foods. During Sept and Oct she is doing a series of videos classes, including “Feeding Toddlers”. Find out more here.  https://www.drorlena.com/videos

(Keep your toddler busy with our NEW toddler lesson plans (there are so many fun ideas included that your toddler will love!)

toddler picky eater

Follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube or Subscribe for free email updates!

No comments

Back to Top