Coping with picky eaters
Is your toddler becoming a picky eater? Learn what may be behind your toddler’s fussy food habits.
Toddlers can be very temperamental when it comes to food. One day, they’ll eat with enthusiasm; the next, they’ll throw their broccoli on the floor or throw a tantrum when you offer porridge.
It can be a very stressful and frustrating time for parents. And it’s only natural that you worry that your little one isn’t getting enough nutrients during their fussy phase. The good news is that the vast majority of toddlers will soon grow out of it.
Why are toddlers such fussy eaters?
It’s been suggested that fussiness is an instinctive survival mechanism that dates back to the Stone Age. The ‘neophobic response’ is a suspicion of new foods that may have helped these early toddlers steer clear of poisonous plants.
These days, there are other identified reasons for fussiness. Toddlers are busy asserting a newfound independence – throwing food on the floor may be them showing you who’s boss. They are also learning so many new things every day – new foods can be overwhelming for them.
Other reasons for food fussiness include:
- Feeling unwell
- Simply having a smaller appetite than usual
- They may still be full from the last meal
- They may be feeling anxious, upset or rushed
- They may not like the texture of the food or find it hard to chew
Patience and perseverance are key! Take your time, try to stay calm and keep offering up a variety of foods. Remember, you’ll both get there eventually.
Are you worried your toddler isn’t eating enough?
Sometimes, it seems like your toddler isn’t eating anything! Keep a record of everything your toddler eats for a week – you may see that they’re getting more variety than you thought. If they’re not, then their fussy eating may point to a deeper issue. For example, your toddler may not like the sensation of food, they may have anxieties about eating, or they may have a medical issue that puts them off their food.
If you are worried that your toddler’s nutritional intake is affecting their health, or the picky eating phase is extended, you should talk to your doctor or health professional.