Let's start with something you really need to hear.
Toddlers aren't great eaters. This is NORMAL. It can also be very normal for babies to be a bit fussy at times too.
Sure, I know that you've got that friend whose child eats all kinds of green vegetables and steak and meals with sauce ON the pasta- but this is the exception, not the rule.
Most toddlers go through a fussy phase somewhere between the age of 1-3 years. For most kids, it happens at about 18 months. Usually, when your baby turns one, they start to become a little bit more hesitant with food. Maybe they lose a favourite or two. But then at about 18 months it hits with full force. It's almost like a switch flicks in many toddlers and they just don't want to eat anymore. Remember, this is developmentally normal. It’s supposed to happen.
There are several things you can do to help your little one when you hit this phase (or even before it!) I’ve shared my top tips below.
- Lower your expectations for your little ones at mealtimes! Toddlers can sit at the table for an average of 7-10 minutes. They don’t want to be fed by you anymore. They’re also most likely to eat most of their food during the day and almost nothing at dinner time. It’s normal for toddlers to refuse foods they previously loved and reject all new foods. They also often stop eating meat and veggies. Remember that these behaviours are normal and not a reflection of your parenting.
- Have a predictable routine of meals and snacks. We want to offer toddlers food every 2-3 hours but not in between those times. This helps them to listen to their tummy and eat as much as their body needs to grow.
- Keep offering rejected foods in small amounts. Kids need to have repeated exposure to tricky foods to be able to learn to like them. Teeny tiny servings are much more likely to be successful than large ones.
- Sit and eat with your little ones as often as you can. Toddlers learn from watching us. Eat a range of foods with them but do your best not to ask them to try the food. Even gentle encouragement backfires and we know that pressure at mealtimes results in toddlers becoming even more fussy in the long run.
- Join Toddler Mealtimes! This is my super helpful, super practical and super reassuring membership where I teach you everything you need to know about cruising through this fussy stage. There’s 100+ snack ideas, a Q&A group where I answer all of your specific questions, 100+ recipes, meal planning guides and solutions for all of your tricky mealtime issues like food throwing and highchair refusal.
If you’d like to learn more about me, head over to my instagram @dr_kyla
I look forward to helping you enjoy mealtimes with your toddler!