By Dr Richard Woolfson, child psychologist
I’m in charge!
At some point, the typical toddler goes through a phase of fussy eating. What was happily scoffed last week is pushed around the plate with disinterest this week. Fussy eating habits can be challenging and your toddler can very quickly learn that refusing to eat is an easy way to get your attention.
You can’t force your child to eat, no matter how hard you try. If you use threats to force your toddler into clearing the contents of their plate, they’ll be all the more determined not to. That’s why, when it comes to your fussy eater, persuasion and encouragement usually work better than pressure and insistence.
So what can you do?
- Make mealtimes relaxing. Allow plenty of time for every meal because a toddler’s appetite is better when he or she is relaxed and comfortable. Remember, you need to stay calm too
- Don’t take it personally. The fact that your toddler doesn’t clear the plate of food you lovingly made doesn’t mean that he or she dislikes you. Keep fussy eating in perspective
- Don’t drag it out. If your toddler hasn’t finished a meal after, say, 20 minutes, calmly take the plate away
- Enjoy the time together. Your toddler loves your company and having you there means that misbehaving isn’t needed in order to get your attention
- Get your toddler involved. Whenever possible, involve your little one in choosing and cooking meals, even shopping for ingredients. By doing so, you can increase a toddler’s commitment to eating the food that’s served
- Set a good example. Your toddler is influenced by your behaviour so be seen enjoying meals that include a wide range of good food
Why not take inspiration from our Toddler Meal Planner