Does your baby love mushy carrots one day and refuses to eat them the next? Do you often find yourself chasing after your little one to finish their food? If you answered yes to these questions, then your little one is a picky eater. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Up to 50% of babies are described by their mommies as fussy eaters.
We know you might be wondering what makes babies turn into picky eaters, how can one tell if their baby is a picky eater, and lastly, how you can deal with them. Read ahead to understand the answers to all of these questions.
How do you tell if your toddler is a picky eater:
Picky eating is quite common among toddlers. Once they grow out of infancy, babies tend to triple in weight. At this point, their growth rate and their appetite tend to slow down by a little bit. This is a stage where your toddler is starting to develop preferences and choices for food. Their favourite food might suddenly become unappealing to them, or food they normally dislike might suddenly become something they can’t keep their hands off of. Here are some signs to tell if your baby is a picky eater:
- Your baby might push the food away or turn their head away from it
- They might refuse to open their mouth when you try to feed them
- Your baby may spit the food out of their mouth
- They may get cranky and crib when it’s mealtime
Picky eating can be a stressful problem to deal with as a parent. You might be constantly worried that your little one is not getting enough nutrition. However, it’s completely normal for a toddler’s preferences and appetite to fluctuate.
Here are a few tips to help your little picky eater develop a healthy relationship with food while encouraging them to listen to their body’s cues and exposing them to a variety of foods:
- Avoid force-feeding your toddler:
Sometimes your toddler may turn their face away from the food. It’s their way of telling you they have had enough even if they have eaten very little. If you continue to feed them after this, they will start to associate food with feelings of stress and discomfort.
- Expose them to new foods:
When trying to help your little one overcome their habits of picky eating, it’s important that you continuously introduce them to new foods to expand their palate. However, take it slow in order to not overwhelm them. Make them try one new food every few days. It’s best if you pair it with the food they’re familiar with and are comfortable eating. For instance, if you’re introducing them to broccoli, pair it with mushy potatoes, or whatever they normally eat.
- Let them explore different textures:
Some toddlers enjoy wet food, while some prefer soft finger food. Some may prefer solids more than liquids. Let them explore all these options and figure out what suits their taste and preferences. Give them time and space to explore and develop a taste for the same. Head to Mothercare Online to explore a wide range of baby feeding and nursing essentials.
- Involve your toddler in meal preparation:
Try to involve your little one in all activities related to meal preparation. For instance, if you’re going to the supermarket to pick out fresh vegetables, take them along and let them take in all the colours, shapes, textures. Ask them to choose. Make them sit in the kitchen with you as you prepare the meal. Toddlers are more likely to welcome foods they’ve been involved in picking, choosing, and preparing. This will help make the ingredients seem more familiar to your child and they may be more willing to try the food.
- Make mealtime more fun:
Making food and mealtime a little bit more fun always helps. Invest in cookie cutters to create fun shapes out of sandwiches and pancakes. Make little smiley faces on their plate with the food that you’re serving them. When you’re feeding them, go all out with the games and pretend that the spoon is an aeroplane landing into your toddler’s mouth. This will encourage your toddler to associate food with fun, positivity, and laughter and make them look forward to mealtime.
Hang in there! Your little fussy eater will continue to surprise and disappoint you when it comes to their eating habits and food choices. Just when you think you have finally cracked the code and discovered the magical favourite foods, their eating pattern might take yet another turn. But, that’s okay. This is their time to explore and develop a taste for different foods, understand their options, and figure out what they like and dislike.