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Getting fussy toddlers to eat healthy

We’ve all been there… there’s a chance your little one’s diet will be 90% snacks! Convincing them to eat healthy, nutritious meals can feel like an uphill battle. But, there are some ways you can persuade them to improve their diet:

Be their example

Children are observant and tend to imitate their parents’ behaviors. Make sure to have healthy eating habits by including a variety of nutritious foods in your own meals. Be enthusiastic when eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and let your toddler see you enjoying these foods. By setting a positive example, you can encourage your little one to be more willing to try new and healthy foods.

Involve them

Involving your fussy toddler in the meal preparation process can pique their interest in healthy foods. Let them help with simple tasks like washing fruits or stirring ingredients. You can also let them have a bite from some of the vegetables or fruits that you’re using. By involving them in the process, they will feel a sense of ownership and be more likely to eat what they have helped prepare.

Variety of foods and small portions

Most toddlers will see a large portion/repetitive meal and most likely move it away. Introduce a wide range of healthy foods in small portions to avoid them becoming disinterested. Offer a variety of colours, flavors, and textures on their plate to make the foods more visually appealing. Be patient and keep reintroducing foods they initially reject, as it can take several attempts before they develop a liking for them.

Make meals fun

Make their meal times enjoyable by making it fun. Use cookie cutters to create interesting shapes out of fruits, vegetables, or sandwiches. Serve meals with colourful plates and spoons or forks, and arrange food in the shape of a smiley face. These tips can help create a positive association with healthy eating.

Division of Responsibility

The Division of Responsibility (DOR) method was created by Ellyn Satter, a feeding therapist and psychotherapist, and has been adopted by many professionals in the field. The DOR approach can help children learn how to eat, reset stressful food habits, and restore balance during mealtimes. If your toddler is a picky eater, refusing to eat certain foods, or stressing around mealtimes, trying the DOR approach is worth considering. This involves parents taking leadership in deciding what, when, and where to feed, while allowing children to choose which foods to eat and how much. Parents create a pleasant mealtime environment, show good eating behavior, and respect their child’s natural likes and dislikes. Children are free to choose their food from what is served, eat the amount they want, and learn to share and be aware of their own hunger and fullness cues. The approach is flexible and should not cause disagreements.

Mum Tips

We asked our Mum & You mums for some tips and the most popular ones were:

  • When serving new foods, give them alongside food you know they already like
  • As your preparing the main meal, try leaving some chopped up fruit and veggies on the table for them to discover. You’ll be surprised how much they’ll help themselves!

Finally, as a company of parents we know how hard it can be to make toddlers do anything! Keep at it and they’ll change their eating habits slowly. We hope these tips will help!

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