Fussy eating is definitely a problem in our household. Anything can put my son off eating food. If he doesn’t like the look of something it’s hard to even convince him to try it, irrelevant of how much effort and time I’ve spent in the kitchen trying to concoct something toddler friendly.
I have to cater to his irrational food fears at times. Such as making sure no food is spilling over the edge off the spoon and making sure his hands are kept impeccably clean if he’s feeding himself. Toddler’s are non sensical when it comes to eating. At least mine is.
But over time I’ve learnt how to adapt to his way of thinking and therefore get him to try new things without the tears and tantrums. So I thought I’d share my top 10 tips for fussy eaters in case any of these tips help you out with your fussy eater.
1. When it came to vegetables or food that wasn’t beige my son would immediately turn up his nose and clamp his mouth shut.
It was during the time when I was teaching him his colours, that I realised if I called his food by their colour instead of what they actually were he’d be more willing to try them.
So peas became “green” and carrots became “orange.”
Because it became a learning game it immediately became more fun for him.
2. In the same way instead of calling broccoli by its name I call it a tree, because he has more association to the word tree than he does to broccoli.
If in doubt I try to see what shape his food looks like and go by that.
This continues to get easier as they get older, now he likes to pretend to be a dinosaur eating trees… win win.
3. Feeling like he’s missing out tends to work a charm too. Sometimes I tell him the dog is eyeing up his food, or Mr London Mum will pretend to eat a bite of his food to which Little London responds with “Daddy no, lil-li-um num num” (deciphered as Dad get off it’s William’s food) and promptly shovels it into his own mouth.
4. In that same respect eating with other children does truly help and convince them to try new things. I think this is where nursery comes in as a helpful tool.
We however don’t send Little London to nursery so I’m part of some toddler groups that have snack time breaks where all the children sit down together.
5. For a while my son wouldn’t eat food that was mixed together because he couldn’t understand what it was. He preferred everything separate.
However if I let him help me in the kitchen mixing the pancake batter or mixing up a sauce he’s only too happy to eat it afterwards once it’s cooked.
He enjoys seeing the whole process from raw ingredients to end result- often staring at the oven in amazement.
6. On days when nothing is working I just leave little plates around the room. Sometimes when I’ve made him something he’s not immediately hungry and forcing him to eat is just far too tedious a job.
So I’ve learnt that if he’s not eaten properly just to make sure there’s food within distance for him to pick at.
7. My son is a milk fiend. He would drink milk all day long if he could. However I do find that milk fills him up which reduces his appetite. So I’m very careful on how much milk he gets in a day. At the moment he has some in the morning and some before bed on a good eating day.
However on days where he has less of an appetite, he’s ill or he’s being really fussy and not eating a good varied diet I do find I supplement him with extra milk.
There’s no wrong or right milk at this age; breast, cows milk and toddler milk are all beneficial and it’s what suits your lifestyle.
SMA® Nutrition have just launched SMA® PRO Toddler Milk.
Just 2 of the 200ml servings provides a toddler with 100% of their recommended daily intake of vitamin D. As we know the sun helps the skin to make vitamin D, but in a country with more wet and grey days than we like, it’s nice to know that particular vitamin need not be lacking in my child’s diet (or hindered by his use of sunscreen). It can then function in doing its job of helping to absorb calcium from the milk and from his meals to support normal bone development come rain or shine.
With iron to help support normal cognitive development and iodine to support normal growth along with omega 3 and 6, I’m confident that my son gets the nutrients he needs to support his diet from the milk I give him.
And on those fussy days the offering of an extra serving of milk means I don’t worry that he’s refused his meals as I know he’s getting everything he needs to continue progressing in healthy manner.
8. Toddlers drive a hard bargain, but it’s one I use at dinner time when I’m desperate. It tends to take this form:
Me: “Can you sit at your table, dinners ready”
Me: “Mummy will put Teletubbies on if you do”
Child moves into position, I scour sky plus and put Teletubbies on TV.
Child looks at food (that I have painstakingly prepared), pokes it then pushes it away.
I pause the TV.
Me: “If you eat a big mouthful I’ll fix the TV”
Continue until end of meal.
9. My son loves fruit pouches. He prefers the taste of the fruit in a pouch over fresh fruit. The fact he can’t read means he also loves vegetable pouches.
Getting extra nutrients into him this way is often my best bet when some days all he’ll eat is the plain pasta on his plate.
10. Don’t offer dessert. If we eat a sweet treat it tends to have nothing to do with meal times, because I don’t want my son getting used to expecting a tastier alternative to his meal.
I’m not saying never give them sweet foods, just choose the timing of it so they know that the plate they have in front of them is all they’re offered and there isn’t a “tastier” alternative.
As they get older and start to develop a bit more when it comes to eating and flavours this probably won’t matter as much. But toddlers will certainly push aside a savoury meal in favour for some chocolate!
(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post).
SMA® PRO Toddler Milk is suitable for young children from 1-3 years, as part of a healthy balanced diet and it is not a breast milk substitute. Breastfeeding should continue for as long as possible.