There are several reasons why toddlers have become a picky eater. It may feel so sudden but as parents, you need to adapt to this change as soon as you can. The reasons for it are not too complicated to understand but also not so simple. Let’s check out the explanation below to know the science behind it.
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3 Reasons Why Toddler is a Picky Eater
There are 3 common reasons why toddler become a picky eater, those are:
1. Becoming More Intuitive
As a toddler, your baby can begin to notice which food is yummy and which is not, especially if you are constantly introducing a combination of vegetables and fruits. Later, when you only give them vegetables, they will refuse because it tastes a lot different from what they always eat. As they grow older, they can also differentiate between them by color. They will notice that most of the foods with green color are not sweet, so they are not yummy, and they refuse to eat them.
2. Developing a Sense of Independence
It is not inevitable that as your child has started speaking and walking, they are also developing a sense of independence. They know that they can walk by themselves and speak as long as they open their mouth. The same with how they will eat later. They know if they close their mouth, then they can refuse to eat specific food they don’t like. Toddlers are not babies anymore, so they can run away and even cry when they are not willing to eat what you offer them.
3. Figuring Out What They Do and Do Not Like
A picky eater is not always about not liking to eat healthy foods. Some children have become picky eaters because they do not like a specific texture of food. This commonly happens if the texture of the food is too slimy, chewy, or maybe crunchy. In this case, the food is not the problem. You just need to know how you can manage food to match how your baby likes the food being cooked.
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9 Picky Eater Food Strategies
As parents of a picky eater toddler, many of us need strategies to expand our children’s liking for a variety of foods. That is why you will need several strategies to introduce new foods and encourage your children to eat them.
1. Make Healthy Food and Eat it With Children
You need to make the food items you want your child to eat available to them. Many of us do not realize that we keep stocking instant foods and easy to make ingredients in our freezer. So how can you teach your children to eat healthy foods if you are not eating them? You need to bring and make healthy foods and eat them first if you want your child to eat them too.
2. Don’t Stop to Offer
After introducing new food and it seems your child doesn’t like it, do not stop to offer. We often stop offering the baby certain food after they refuse it 3 to 5 times. You cannot give up and need to consistently offer your child the food you want your child to eat. Let them play with it, touch it, smell it, and eventually, they will come and try to taste it.
3.Dont Offer Junk Food
If you find your child refusing a meal, do not offer junk food in exchange for it. You have to offer another form of food with the same healthy ingredients to let your child know what food options are available for them. This way, your child will not be exposed to junk food too soon.
4. Avoid Giving Convenience Foods
Avoid giving convenience foods such as chips and crackers as snacks for your child. Try to give them sliced broccoli or carrots or even bell peppers they can eat at their snack time.
5. Involve Them in the Process of Buying Foods
Do not hesitate to bring children to buy groceries. Let them know and explore that there are so many types of food ingredients. Involve them in the process of buying it too. For example, you can ask them which vegetables they want to eat for dinner and so on.
6. Let Them Play with Foods
Make mealtime a fun time, not a war zone. Let them do whatever they want with their food, as long as it is still on their plate. Let them sniff the food first, grab it with their bare hands, or even pull its parts. It is the part of the process where they get to know the foods so they can eat them later.
7. Always Give Them Food Options
While preparing a meal for your children, always communicate with them about the options available. You can explain that you will make chicken soup or cheese pasta and what are the ingredients used to make them. Ask your child which one they want to eat, so they will feel satisfied that they can eat what they choose.
8. Try The Rotation Rule
Do you know what the rotation rule is? The rotation rule is a rule that can help you to explain to your children they can eat the same food for two days in a row. For example, you need to communicate that if they already ate potatoes today, then the next day they have to eat broccoli.
9. Invite a Friend to Eat Together
Children are competitive because they will do what their friends can do. So you can invite a friend with a healthy eating habit to eat together with your child. Let your child see and learn how to eat a variety of foods, just like their friend can do.
Picky Eater Recipes
Of course, the best strategy to feed picky eater toddlers is by adjusting your cooking to match their liking. You can try toddler meal recipes for picky eaters. There is not much cooking because most of them only need a great assembly to be finished. Check the following recipes if you want to try them too.
- Smoothies; you just need to blend vegetables and fruits to make this. The children will surely love the taste of smoothies.
- Butter and Cheese Pasta; you want your children to eat more carbs? Give them pasta. Add butter and cheese to also include protein in it.
- Meatballs; your children hate meat? Make them round and cute as meatballs. Complete it with sweet sauce and cucumbers to let your child savor a new food.
- Pancakes; you want to introduce a new snack? Make pancakes! It is so easy to make. On top of that, the taste can be adjusted with fruits and honey to match your children’s liking.
- Ham Fried Rice; all children will surely love ham fried rice. The savory taste and the chewy textures are the best points of this recipe.
Read also : Pros and Cons Baby Lead Weaning
Healthy Meals for a Picky Eater
If you are tired of seeing your child eat the same food every single day, you need to take extra care with your cooking. Try several healthy meal recipes that are well-loved by picky eaters. Usually, picky eaters can eat healthy meals that have a flavor that they favor.
So you need to find out what kind of flavors your children like to eat. If they prefer the food to be sweet, then do not forget to add a little ketchup or honey to your cooking recipes. If they prefer spicy food, you can add chili powder in enough amounts to arouse their appetite.
The point is that toddlers can eat healthy meals as long as you know how to offer them.
What defines a picky eater?
A “picky eater” diet means that children (or adults) often refuse food or eat the same food repeatedly. Picky eaters usually peak in toddlers and preschool years and appear in a year or so-this is when many children start to feed themselves. They can now choose what to eat and how much to eat, thus having a certain degree of control over their lives. Therefore, sometimes they may eat a lot. On other days, they didn’t seem to eat much at all.
What can I give my picky eater?
Don’t turn mealtime into a struggle of will. Continue to provide foods that are beneficial to you, even if your child refuses it at first. Many children have a good time before deciding that they like new foods, so please keep trying. Provide fruits, vegetables and even “grown food” without stress. Your child may be surprised by how you like it.
Is Picky Eating a Sign of Autism?
Although picky eating is an ordinary problem, research shows that picky eating is usually a temporary and normal part of development. However, children with autism usually have more chronic eating problems than just picky eaters. This may mean that the child will not eat all foods such as protein or vegetables. Other reason it may mean that the child exhibits strong problem behaviors when serving foods they don’t like.
That is all everything you can do to help your picky eater toddler to eat better. All tips might work well for your family and can help you to have a better mealtime. So, do not give up offering healthy foods to your children until they eventually accept them!