Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to get a Picky Toddler to Eat

Ohhh the dreaded mealtime struggle. Reverse psychology goes out the door and it seems more like me pleading with my 2.5 year old to eat. It seems somedays she will be a willing participant (few and far between) but most days I feel like I am making deals and bribing Samantha to eat. 15 minutes turns into 30 minutes which turns into 1 hour and counting and we are still at the table. 30 minutes into the meal she begins to turn into a chipmunk, storing each bite of food into the sides of each cheek. Eventually she finishes everything in her mouth but she makes it clear she is not happy with the situation.

So how do we get a picky toddler to eat?? This seems like the million dollar question that I am searching for the million dollar answer if it even exists. Some days I feel defeated by my little angel and take it personally that she doesn't want to eat the meal that I feel like I put my heart and soul in to make just for her. But then I realize that no matter what I put in front of her she has already made up her mind before sitting at the table if she plans to eat or not.

Oh what to do...what to do. I've been trying a few new tactics that I think have been working but it is truly a work in progress project that I have decided will be successful:

Blend it: Easy to get child to eat daily fruit requirements in one serving

Dip it: Children love to dip their foods in tasty sauces it makes it fun and exciting

Plate it: The look of the meal is important for children. Providing options allows them the freedom to eat a little bit of this and that

Portion it: Children's stomachs are small. A toddler's stomach is the size of their fist. Providing small portions is more appealing and less discouraging.

Cook it: Letting your child help you prepare dinner may encourage them to eat more at mealtime if they know they had a hand in creating it

Compartmentalize it: Providing a variety at meal time into a compartmentalized plate is more appealing to a child then only giving them one option. They feel in control of their food intake.

It is common for toddlers to change their eating habits day to day. They are learning to become independent and make choices for themselves. The best thing to do is to provide plenty of healthy choices in a happy, positive and relaxed environment so that mealtimes can be enjoyable for you and your child.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is a stage we need to go through and conquer and in the long run will be a minor set back we look back on and sigh a sign of relief when we've past it.


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