Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters in fact, picky eating is one of the most common concerns parents bring to paediatricians. But remember if your child is thriving, then they’re probably getting what they need. Most parents don’t realise how little toddlers actually need to eat (those tiny tummies fill up fast). Remember that children eat when they’re hungry. Children have a natural ability to sense when they are hungry and when they are full.
It’s understandably very frustrating and worrying when your little one doesn’t want to eat but it is important to still offer food at each mealtime so they can still follow routine and feel included. Parental pushing may lead to future eating problems so try not to send the signal that their non eating is stressing you out (even if it really is!). Occasionally a toddler may not eat because of an underlying health condition, such as an ear infection, teething, or reflux, so don’t panic, its best to carry on as normal rather then change your routine.
Things to remember –
What might help. . .
Mealtimes should be a relaxed, happy and positive experience. Suggestions include:
You should ask for professional help if:
Between 1 and 5 years old, it is normal for a toddler’s appetite to slow down. It will probably seem like your child doesn’t eat enough, is never hungry, or won’t eat unless you spoon-feed them yourself. As long as your child’s energy level is normal and they are growing normally, your child’s appetite is most likely naturally slowing down.
A child’s appetite is decreased if they are served more food than she could possibly eat. If you serve your child a small amount on a large plate, they are more likely to finish it and gain a sense of accomplishment. If your child seems to want more, wait for them to ask for it. Avoid serving your child any foods that they strongly dislike (such as some vegetables) as it will just put them off eating other foods (offering these foods are advised but do not force them to eat it). Your child may eat only one or two preferred foods for weeks, then suddenly change their minds and want something completely different. Don’t worry – this is typical toddler behaviour. Don’t forget to consider how much they drink too. Drinking too much milk or water can dampen an appetite so you may want to wait and serve drinks after a meal.