A whole new slew of challenges arise when your children graduate to eating solids. There are parents who luck out and never have to contend with the picky-eating stage, but this has been the accepted norm in the 1-3 age bracket.
If you’ll be facing the toddler years soon, brace yourself because it can get pretty ridiculous. That’s one of the things that make having children such a precious experience. At the same time, it might also make you want to tear your hair out.
The Trials of Toddler Feeding
Toddlers are adorable and funny, but they can also be very stubborn. There’s usually no reasoning with them, so get ready to deal with the usual feeding issues in children at this stage. Here are some of the most common.
1. Limiting themselves to just certain types of foods.
There are kids who eat only very specific foods. Some will only eat dry food, light-colored food, soft food, etc. This is usually just a phase, so there’s no need to take drastic measures. To deal, you can help them get over this quirk or, at the very least, sneak variety in by doing the following:
- Turn everything into finger foods, so it’s easier to self-feed. They’ll be more inclined to try something new if they feel that they’re in control of what goes into their mouth.
- Serve new foods with the regulars so the “strange” stuff doesn’t seem as threatening.
- Be a good example. Show that you enjoy variety and refrain from voicing your own likes and dislikes.
2. Vehement rejection of green leafy vegetables.
Vegetables have a bitter quality to them that toddlers are particularly sensitive to. They’ll outgrow this aversion and eventually tolerate or even like the flavor of green leafy vegetables as they get older – if you play your cards right. What’s the right treatment of this peeve?
- If they refuse to eat veggies, do not make them eat against their will. Forcing them might lead to a lasting aversion.
- Try feeding them other kinds of vegetables like squash, cauliflower, carrots, etc.
- Puree them and add to omelets, sauces, juices, etc.
3. Laziness to chew.
They used to just suckle and swallow. Biting off, chomping, munching, and the other elements of chewing take more effort.
There are kids who would refuse to chew, so they would limit themselves to blended and finely chopped foods. Observe them, however, to ensure that they actually have the oro-motor skills necessary for chewing. If there’s a problem, some special occupational help may be needed to address it.
If your child is simply not used to eating bigger and tougher chunks, just slowly increase the size and texture of the foods your serve so they can gradually learn to eat these with the chewing required.
4. Pocketing and taking forever to finish eating.
Pocketing is sticking food in one side of the mouth instead of swallowing right away. Once again, you need to observe your kids if they have the oro-motor skills necessary for chewing and swallowing.
Pocketing may seem cute, like with hamsters, but this may be your child’s contribution to the power struggle at mealtime. Here are some tips to discourage this behavior.
- Make sure that you’re not overwhelming them with huge portions and spoonfuls.
- Do not have distractions around, so they can concentrate on the task at hand, which is eating.
- Schedule snacking so they’re adequately hungry by mealtime.
5. Pushing for more independence.
Toddlers love to explore and test. They want to see how much they can push before you give in. They also want to be able to choose what they eat. You can humor them up to a point.
You can offer two choices, both of which should ideally be recommended in any children’s nutrition guide. This way, they feel that they have a say on what they get to eat.
Remind the grandparents and other family members to be consistent in your stance on food and mealtime. When somebody’s being indulgent, your effort to establish good eating habits may be derailed.
Surviving Toddler Antics
Parenthood is a series of challenges. This is just among the first of many more to come. Having this mindset is certainly one way to keep picky eating and other feeding issues in perspective.