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Having a child that is a picky eater is a source of much frustration for a lot of families. Lots of children see certain vegetables and immediately turn up their noses. Blending down vegetables into pasta or curry sauces is one of the oldest tricks in the book and it’s a trick that works! Picky eaters that refuse new veggies never need know about it. You really learn to appreciate how many lies your parents tell you after you become a parent yourself! If your kids refuse broccoli and carrots, over steaming and blending it into a pasta sauce can mean you get into them some excellent and vital nutrients and they never even know about it. It’s frustrating and can be soul destroying to cook new meals for them to be binned because your three year old turned up their nose. Children have a massive resilience and if you give in and give them something they will eat other than the meal you cooked, they know they can win! It’s a battle of wills: children can’t starve themselves but that doesn’t mean we won’t panic thinking that they will. Instilling good eating habits in our children is paramount for setting them up to enjoy all types of food; especially fruit and vegetables but this can be difficult for the picky eater.In addition, it’s important to remember that a toddler’s appetite can temporarily wane when teething or ill, causing temporary disregard even for tried-and-true mealtime favourites.7

Many companies out there offer courses for healthy eating in children like hatacademy.co.uk and these are great and packed full of information. However, some children are plain picky, some have issues with food following an illness and some are just plain greedy guts and will eat everything in sight including all the good food. Like adults, children like junk foods. Sugar and fats are addictive and of course, children would sooner choose McDonald’s or chocolate over actual nutritious meals. However, if they are taught from a young age that a balanced diet is the key to their nutrition, growth and survival it can make all the difference. Some children have an issue with mixing textures together which can be hard when a lot of food is made in sauces. Older toddlers may reject foods to garner attention or as a way to assert their independence, or both, because it’s fun to watch their parents react. Whatever the case, because toddlers are characteristically fickle, parents should remain flexible. And, they should try not to worry. Try not to get anxious about mealtimes. If you’re able to keep a calm and positive attitude, this will be better for both you and your toddler (Scaglioni 2008).

Most toddlers will eat enough to keep them going, even when they’re refusing food at times (Scaglioni 2008, ITF 2006). Remember that your little one’s stomach is still tiny, so he won’t be able to eat that much in one go. If he doesn’t want any more, don’t try to force him (Scaglioni 2008, NHS 2013a, ITF 2006). Try not to fret too much about what your toddler eats at a single meal, or in a single day. Instead, think about what he eats over the course of a week (ITF 2006).

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