Having a toddler who is a fussy eater can be an incredibly difficult thing to navigate. Every time you set a plate of new food down in front of them, they turn their nose up at you and refuse to even try it. As a parent, it can be the most disheartening thing in the world!
If the issue is not dealt with early on, then it can inevitably lead to a more consistent problem later on in life - which, of course, no parent wants!
So, if your little one is in a bad food cycle and you are struggling to get them out of it, then we are here to help you! Check out our top 5 pieces of advice for fussy toddlers below:
1. Little and often
When it comes to introducing your toddler to new foods, it is vital that you try not to overwhelm them. If you set them down to a huge meal with lots of new ingredients, or if you overload their plate with something that they have already claimed that they don’t like, this will only cause more resentment and will put them off the idea of trying the food. Instead, try introducing the ‘little and often’ approach - offering them smaller amounts of the new food, and doing this a few times a week to help your little one to become used to it quicker. Patience is a virtue!
2. Dish out the treats
What toddler doesn’t love a reward? Sometimes, all your child needs is an incentive to try new foods. If they know that they will receive something positive at the end of their taste test, they will feel much more encouraged to give things a try. Your reward doesn’t have to be a huge present - it can be a gold star sticker, extra playtime, a trip to the playground or their favourite treat as an after-dinner reward. Regardless of what prize you decide to choose, we’re certain that it will work wonders!
3. Incorporate where possible
This is such a good tip! If your toddler is struggling to eat a specific food on its own, then a handy way to ensure that they will digest it is to incorporate the ingredient into a recipe that you know your child already loves. If your child isn’t fond of a particular fruit, then why not try sneakily adding it into their favourite cupcake recipe? If it is a vegetable that they are struggling with, you could always disguise it into their most-loved dinner recipe. By hiding it amongst ingredients that they already love, there is a good chance that your child will eat the whole thing up without even realising!
4. Stick to routine
If your child is refusing to eat a specific food, then you definitely do not want them to be feeling full before they get a chance to try it! If you can, try to stick to the same meal routine each day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Where possible, try to plate up these meals at the same time every day, to avoid your child feeling thrown at mealtimes. Try to prevent them from eating too many snacks close to dinnertime; if your child doesn’t feel hungry when they are sitting down for dinner, then the chances of them being willing to try new foods is extremely unlikely. Consistency is key!
5. Unity at the table
Lastly, it is so important that your toddler sees other people eating the food that they profess to hate! In order to do this, you must ensure that everyone at the dinner table is eating the exact same meal. If, for example, your partner or one of your other children swaps out one ingredient for a different one, then your child will begin to question why that rule doesn’t apply to them. This could potentially cause your toddler to become upset and even more stubborn. Instead, make sure that everyone is eating identical dinners, to avoid confusion and to encourage your child to tuck in. If everyone is doing it, they will be much more likely to do it too!