Mealtime Strategies for Your ‘Selective’ Eater
Nutritionist – and mum – Larissa from Future Foody shares her expertise to make mealtimes with a fussy eater a little easier for you and them
4 min read
‘Selective eating ‘ in toddlers and children is very normal so please know that you’re not alone. Our toddler’s eating habits can vary from day to day and are often in tune with the massive development that they are going through. For some this phase passes quickly, however for others it can linger and this can be an incredibly stressful time for parents.
When a decrease in appetite is normal
A toddlers energy requirements at 2 years of age are less than half of the requirements at 6 months of age. It can be hard for parents to understand that their baby’s appetite can decrease significantly after their first birthday, however, their fastest growth period occurs in that first year and when this growth slows down, so can their appetite.
Here are some strategies to help at meal times:
Set realistic expectations
It is important that we don’t just focus on what our toddler has eaten at one meal, or even one day. If we look at their intake over a whole week we can often see the problem isn’t as bad as we thought.
Serve appropriate foods
Always have at least one food on their plate that they already love and you know they will eat if they are hungry. Remember this food might be all they eat so make sure you offer one you are OK with, if this is the case. Also, for some toddlers it is best we don’t introduce new foods at meal times when they are over-tired.
Regular meal times
A lot of toddlers like to know what comes next, so when we set a regular feeding routine they will learn to know when to expect the foods you prepare. Snacks are incredibly important as they provide extra energy and nutrients throughout the day. It’s important that they are still hungry for their main meal times so, for example, this may mean “closing the kitchen” an hour before dinner time.
Appropriate portion sizes
For some children a full plate may feel overwhelming so serving age appropriate portions will make for a more positive meal time experience (for both parents and child) and, hopefully, less food waste too!
If you are worried about your child’s health please see your GP or primary health provider.