Is it a big deal to make your kid sit and eat certain foods? Does your child only eat fruit jam or their other favorite food instead of an entire meal? We know what a conundrum it can be to deal with a fussy eater. Usually, children emerge as picky eaters at an early age, from around 2 to 3 years. Those are the years when a child develops the sense of different tastes, textures, colors and shapes of food. Fussy eater toddlers show a broad spectrum of behavior which can be different for every child.
The lack of proper meal intake can lead to nutritional problems in kids. While fussy eating is a primary concern for parents, knowing why a child shuns food is significant. So, we've got why children behave as the pickiest eaters and how you can handle them.
Reasons for a Child's Fussy Eating Behavior
Picky eating isn't an innate nature; it is part of children's development process. If you notice your child being too fussy with food, there are some reasons behind that.
Toddlers are always curious to learn and explore new things. So the child becomes much involved in activities such as playing, walking, climbing, running etc. Constant involvement in other activities causes distraction and tiredness in kids, increasing their fussiness.
Illness can take a toll on a toddler's mood and energy levels. Even a common cold and cough may result in a dropped appetite, and that's why the child becomes fussy.
Delay in food texture transition
The transition of food from liquids to solids and other forms is essential to introduce to a child at the right age. If the process gets delayed, it becomes an issue for the child to have a smooth grasp of the texture of food, and they become a picky eater.
Toddlers experience various mood swings as they explore the world inside and outside the home. Hence, a child may be emotionally upset and refuses to eat. Therefore, do not forcefully feed them and try to console your kiddo.
How to Handle a Picky Eater Toddler
Know your kid's appetite
Observing a child's food habits and moods is vital as a parent. Even though it is brief, it is of great help to know your child's appetite so that you can give them suitable food in the required proportions. Respect your toddler's appetite if they eat less or sometimes refuse to eat. Set them free to choose what to eat from the given healthy options.
Introduce new food
It can be uninteresting to have the same or similar food every day. The same applies to kids because even they get bored with the same food with the same taste, which is also one reason toddlers fuss about eating. So, ensure to introduce new varieties of food to your kid. Get new food items on a child's plate and see how curious they'll be to taste them.
Make mealtime fun
Mealtime is always supposed to be fun and not a battleground. It can be tedious to deal with a picky eater at times, however, do not make mealtime stressful for kids. Create an eye-pleasing platter for your child; you can include cookies, dips, hummus, sprinkles or anything that holds the child's attraction to their food.
Distractions while eating can be one of the major concerns, especially for picky eater toddlers. Therefore, keep a big no to TV, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets that'd occupy a kid's attention while eating. Instead, tell stories, have conversations and include your child in family dining time.
Start with a small portion
A plate full of food your child usually refuses to eat or prefers less can overwhelm them. Instead of a large portion, try giving a small amount of that particular food on your kid's plate. Irrespective of the child's dislike of the food, the constant exposure to that food instigates curiosity.
Don't force food
Forcing food doesn't make a child less picky eater. So, if your kid says he isn't hungry or eats less, do not force them to eat or clean their plate. Please respect their decision because moving a child to eat can confuse them. Later, a child might doubt their appetite and would become fussier.
Stick to the routine
It is more than essential to set a routine for your child. Children thrive on routines, and the parents have to serve the food regularly on time instead of fluctuating their child's routine. Missing out on a child's routine is like messing up their appetite. Hence, offering food at every regular interval is advisable and sticking to that routine.
Moreover, do not bribe or ban food items that your toddler prefers to have more. Instead, you can replace the dessert bribe with a walk to the park, visit their favorite place, or anything that includes physical activities. Also, talk about food with your kid. Focus on having a conversation about how a particular food tastes, its texture, the benefits and everything. This practice will help the child to connect with the food, and they'd make an effort to try that food.