Which mom has ever escaped the task of feeding her fussy toddler? If you are mothering a picky eater of a tot, worry not, you are not alone in this. I can relate to every young mom, who is at her wits end in her quest of feeding (at least) one meal to her child, successfully.
Toddler create a fuss and refuse to eat when they are uncomfortable. So, first and foremost, you need to understand why your tiny tot is declining her food. Is there any discomfort in her throat? Or did she have lots of unwanted snacks or drank too much water, just before her meal? If after a few bites, she doesn’t swallow her food or is spitting it out, then chances are that she is already full. However, if being a fussy eater is becoming her second nature, then you need to get your act together.
Here’re 10 Tips to Follow when Trying to Feed a Faddy Toddler
Giving the Right Amount of Food
Many mothers tend to feed their child as much as possible, thinking that their child is not putting on enough weight. Well, I can understand your concern, but as long as your child is active and reaching her developmental milestones on time, you have nothing to worry about. Really! Remember, every kid is different. May be your child likes to eat small quantities at close intervals of time, instead of a heavy one-time meal. Try to understand your little one’s preferences and accordingly, modify the quantity of food that you are giving her.
No Force Feeding Please!
Refrain from force-feeding your little one. It actually does more harm than good. While a mother’s frustration (when unable to feed her child successfully) is quite understandable, but it is better to stop feeding the kid, when she is completely refusing to take her bite. Keep the food aside and play with her instead. Once she is distracted and forgets about her ‘food related tantrum’ a few minutes ago, try feeding her again. If you’re in luck, she might start taking her food. Works for me at times. So, no harm trying.
Maintaining a fixed routine is important. Your tiny tot might get cranky and refuse to eat, if you try to feed her when she’s sleepy. So make it a habit of feeding her at least an hour or two before her bed time. Also, don’t make the mistake of chasing your kid with a cup of milk, right after she wakes up in the morning. Give her some time to ease up and once she is in a good mood, give her the breakfast. Once the toddlers understand the specific eating times and patterns, the mothers’ work of feeding them becomes much easier. At times, my little one surprises me by asking for her fruits in her usual fruit time, in case I am a little late in giving her.
Mom! I have Taste Buds too!
I know as mothers, we would only want feed our kiddos the most nutritious food. In the whole process, we often forget to consider the ‘developing taste buds’ of our kids. If your child is just refusing to open her mouth to the smashed veggies that you are trying to feed her, then try giving her something else. Remember, kids’ choice of foods do change. So, if she loved her pureed vegetables a month back, doesn’t mean that she will love the same forever. Introduce her to a variety of foods to break the monotony, if any. One day you can give her tomato soup during dinner, next day try giving pumpkin soup or a spinach smoothie. Similarly, do the same with fruits. Monday is apple day, Tuesday is banana day and so on.
Involve your Tiny Tot
In order to retain the kids’ interest in their food, how about involving them while making their food. For example, when you are making a bowl of porridge for your kiddo, just make her sit close to you, show her what you’re using to prepare the same. Also, encourage her stir the porridge. This is a good way of making your little one feel important and confident. They love to eat the food that they believe they have made!
Presentation is the Key!
To make food time more interesting, get child-friendly bowls, spoons and plates for your little one. If she is fond of Mickey Mouse, why not get her Mickey Mouse theme utensils? If your child is like mine, she might like to eat in a similar plate that you are eating in or her older sibling is eating. It’s all about understanding your child’s choices. Along with serving the food in attractive utensils, you can also arrange them in a way that will evoke the child’s interest in her food.
Change her Place of Eating
Sometimes, in order to tame a fussy toddler, you could change the place while feeding her. If she is used to sitting on her high chair in the dining hall, for a change, let her sit in the patio with toys strewn around while you feed her. Once in a while, these changes are welcome and your child will surely love it. I still remember how my first born just loved it, whenever I would feed him in the balcony, showing him the birdies, the plants, the sky, the clouds and more!
How about introducing some ‘food time only’ toys or stories to your little one? Tell her a story that she just loves or let her play with her audio book when she is eating. Let her know that she is allowed these little perks only when she eats. Also, you could ask your child to finish her food fast, if she wants her favourite dessert. These incentives, sometimes, work wonders in dealing with fussy eater.
If your child has a sibling, why not feed both of them together at the same time? Or maybe all of you could sit at the table and eat together as a family. Your tot will understand that this is a meal time and like the others, she too should eat her food.
Pull in the Daddy or Granny!
This works for me and how! If your partner is around, just ask him to feed the little one. Who knows, your little devil might surprise (or shock) you by being the angel of an eater and taking every bite that her Daddy gives her. Children enjoy playing mind games at times, so just give in to them, as long as your mission of successfully feeding your kiddo is accomplished.
You, as the mother, need to ensure that your child looks forward to eating instead of getting appalled by the whole idea of eating.
Follow the above tips and at the same time, make a note of your child’s food consumption to make sure that she is eating foods from all the main nutrient groups i.e. carbs, proteins, calcium, fat, vitamins and minerals. You could also discuss your child’s eating patterns with her pediatrician to get reassured that as long as your child is active, there’s nothing alarming to look out for. Fussy eating is just a phase and this too shall pass!