An enormous amount of energy and stress is
needlessly wasted by parents around
mealtimes. Trying to force feed an
otherwise well nourished toddler against
their will using various encouragements,
games or threats mostly results in food
everywhere but in the child's mouth. A
flustered parent and a child who has not had
a single morsel more than what they wanted
to in the first place.
Toddlers are as varied as adults, some
are fat, some are thin, some are fussy and
some mimic a garbage disposal unit, where
everything edible and occasionally inedible
goes in the mouth.
It is very very rare for a toddler to
starve themselves to illness. The survival
instinct will mostly overpower fussiness.
However if you have a toddler who is
underweight or malnourished and very fussy
it would be prudent to get medical advice to
ensure there are no underlying medical
problems. If however your toddler is in a
normal weight range, then there is nothing
to gain by making every meal time a
battlefield of opposing wills.
Some tips include:
1. Have meals in a fixed location without
distractions. TV dinners are out!
2. Keep meals simple and nutritious
(nothing is more frustrating than spending
hours on a meal and then baby takes only
half a bite.
3. If baby insists on feeding themselves,
give them a good scooped bib (so spilled
food can be recycled) and an appropriately
sized spoon and give them a helping hand as
4. If your child refuses dinner, simply
place unused portion in the fridge and offer
it to them later (ensuring it is still safe
to eat!) DO NOT ALLOW top up snacks of
sweets and milk and cookies after an uneaten
5. Let children eat at their own pace. If
they are slowly nibbling away, let it go.
Some will always finish before you and even
borrow some food off your plate.
6. Encourage adult healthy eating habits,
but stay flexible. Eventually pier pressure
and maturity will encourage them into an
eating pattern more like yours.
7. If your toddler dislikes variety (as
many do), then repetitive nutritious meals
are just fine. It can also help to make
meals look interesting. Food cut into
interesting shapes, food faces and simple
food pictures are always popular.
Don't worry if your toddler is just a
snacker. If you are concerned about their
nutritional intake, keep a food dairy.
Write down every bite of food that gets into
your toddler's mouth. You may be surprised
that their constant snacking on a piece of
cheese, some sultanas, three bites of a
chicken salad sandwich, two bites of apple,
a chocolate biscuit with a slice of tomato
and so on, actually ads up to be a well
Naturally to be avoided are reliance on
sweet sugary drinks, potato crisps, sweets,
cookies and other very fatty and overly