I was born a passionate foodie. The running joke in our house was that my pre-school report card stated that I tended to ask when it was going to be lunch-time as early as 8:30am. My mum never had any issues encouraging me to eat. Which is why I am absolutely flummoxed why my daughter doesn’t seem to like food.
She’ll grudgingly eat a certain type of cracker with Vegemite, maybe some rice and only seems to find her appetite when hot chips are on the menu. I’ve tried every trick in the book, but I can’t seem to coerce her to eat a balanced diet.
“Oh, don’t worry, she won’t starve herself,” they tell me. But yes, I do worry. And while she looks healthy enough on the surface, I can’t help but wonder whether she’s actually eating enough, especially of the right food.
So I’ve had a chat to the experts and this is what they suggest. Hopefully these tips will help you too:
Is She Just Fussy Or Is There A Bigger Problem?
The reality of my situation (and perhaps yours too), is that many kids are ‘picky eaters’ Maybe your child is distracted at mealtimes and is more interested in throwing the food than eating it? They could be between growth spurts so may be less hungry and let’s not forget that toddlers do have smaller tummies so they get full quicker.
The issue may not be that straight-forward, however, if you notice any of these red flags:
No Weight Gain – toddlers come in all shapes and sizes so just because your little one isn’t as hefty as big Tommy next door, is certainly no cause for alarm. However, if you have noticed that your child is not putting on weight over a few months or is losing weight, it’s worthwhile chatting to your GP to put your mind at ease.
Change of Eating Habits – A sudden change to what your child eats and doesn’t is something to take note of. It is a possibility that an allergy may be the underlying cause of this so it’s worthwhile getting checked up.
Absolute Food Avoidance – It is normal for toddlers to refuse a type of food, simply based on its texture, colour, shape or some other completely irrational reason. However if your toddler simply refuses to eat, gets overly anxious at meal times, chokes, gags or vomits when eating, then it’s time to chat to your local doctor for advice. There also may be an underlying sensory processing issue, which may be the cause to the aversion of certain foods. So it’s worthwhile exploring this possibility too.
Reduce Serving Sizes
I can’t help giving my kids a generous portion at mealtimes but then I worry as to why they’re not finishing their food. Keep in mind that toddler portions are about a quarter of a normal grown-up portion.
Experts have suggested the following guideline – serve out a tablespoon per food group for every year of their age. As an example, you’d give a two year old two tablespoons of fruit and two tablespoons of meat or chicken. That should be enough to satisfy their small tummy.
Serve a Variety of Food Groups at Each Meal
It’s not always easy to put together creative meals, especially when you’ve got picky eaters but at least aim to serve a combination of grains, vegetables, fruits, protein, and dairy at most meals. This will help provide a nutritious balance in your child’s diet and prevent your toddler from getting bored. The challenge of course, is getting the kids to eat what you give them.
Do Your Best To Not Get Angry Or Force Your Child To Eat
After spending time and effort putting together a wholesome meal for your child, it’s so hard not to get frustrated when your child refuses to eat your delicious food. Try and resist urging him to eat past the point when he’s full as this could lead to overeating and even weight gain in later life. Pressuring your child to eat will upset them and could cause food-related anxiety.
Also, avoid bribing your child with a sweet treat to encourage them to finish their food. And do not threaten or punish your little one if they don’t polish off their meal – this can cause stress and make mealtimes unpleasant.
Give Your Child A Nutritional Supplement
If you have a fussy child, like myself, it may be a good idea to give them a nutritional supplement for added nutrient support.
I like Biostime SN-2 BIO PLUS™ Premium Organic Toddler Milk Drink * because, most importantly, kids love the naturally milky, smooth taste. I really like that this toddler milk drink has been developed by paediatric nutrition specialists with decades of experience and is made from freshly sourced, organic milk and cream from premium selected organic producers. The product contains a specialised blend of scientifically evaluated ingredients to help support the nutritional needs of toddlers and is currently the only certified organic toddler milk drink that is formulated with both prebiotics and probiotics, available in Australia. Biostime is essentially the next generation of childhood nutrition, combining the power of science and nature to produce a product with a commitment to quality and safety.
As a bonus, Biostime SN-2 BIO PLUS™ Premium Organic Toddler Milk Drink contains the natural prebiotic FOS, which helps feed beneficial bacteria, as well as B. infantis, a probiotic naturally found in the digestive tract of breastfed infants.
I am a big believer in the benefits of probiotics. Biostime Infant Probiotics with Vitamin D ** has been specially developed to support the immune system, promote healthy digestion and help restore good gastro-intestinal flora. This Biostime product comes conveniently packaged in individual sachets, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and has added Vitamin D for immune support.
Pay Attention To How Often Your Toddler Eats
Some young kids struggle to sit at the table long enough to eat a full meal. But they could be grazing regularly throughout the day. Keep track of how often and what your toddler eats during the day. If they’re eating smaller meals or snacks five to six times a day, they’re most likely eating enough.
Do not give your child snacks close to their next mealtime, such as in the next hour. Have them eat their snacks a few hours before their next meal. This way, your toddler will be hungry enough for their meal and not too full on snacks.
And when you do give your child snacks, it’s best if they’re healthy. Good ideas include cheese, fruit, yoghurt, crackers, peanut butter and veggie sticks.
Be A Good Role Model
Lead with a good example and demonstrate good eating habits yourself so that your toddler can eventually learn from you. Set regular mealtimes as having a routine can make eating easier for a young child. Sit with your child at meals and reduce distractions, such as TV or your phone. Make mealtimes a fun family affair where everyone sits down, eats together, and chats about their day. Your toddler will be more inclined to try new foods if they see you eating it. Show your child that you are enjoying your meal by chewing your food slowly and commenting on the tastes that you are experiencing.
Do you have a fussy child? What are your tips to encourage them to eat?
Visit www.biostime.com.au to learn more about the next generation of infant nutrition.
Biostime products are available at Chemist Warehouse, Priceline Pharmacy, Pharmacy Warehouse and Pharmacy 4 Less.
This article was commissioned by the team at Biostime as part of the Biostime product review campaign. The Mouths of Mums editorial team compiled this article after working with the team at Biostime andrealising that they provide top quality paediatric nutritional products.
* As part of a healthy and varied diet. To be consumed when energy and nutrient intakes may be inadequate.
** Disclaimer: Always read the label. Use only as directed. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.