It can be very frustrating when you have spent ages cooking up a lovely family meal and your child doesn’t want to eat it. You are not alone it is happening in houses all over the country. Luckily for most it is just a phase they are going through. There are lots of things you can do to help your child enjoy their meals and here are some tips that we use at Little Explorers Day Nursery Bury St Edmunds.
At Little Explorers Day Nursery we will work with you to help encourage trying of different foods and helping to create good eating habits.
The first thing to think about is why toddlers suddenly don’t like certain foods? During weaning they may have happily eaten all the lovely vegetables that you served them and tried all the meals you prepared and now all of a sudden they are refusing them – even their favourites. Rest assured, it doesn’t mean you’ve ‘failed’ at weaning, and it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll only be eating chicken nuggets and crisps when they’re 18. The sudden change we see in our toddlers is all about them asserting their independence, in exactly the same way that they run off at the park to see how far away they can get before you charge after them, or start coming up with delaying tactics to ensure they don’t have to go to bed early.
Lets look at some tips you can try at home:
Eat together: eating as a family can help to encourage your toddler to at least try something themselves.
It also reinforces dinner as a positive communal time where you can all come together and spend time catching up on how everyone’s day has been, which can only serve to remind them that dinner is a good thing.
Keep trying: it can take multiple attempts for your toddler to truly decide if they like something or not.
The term ‘acquired taste’ doesn’t just apply to the stronger flavours we might think of like cheese, it can apply to anything no matter how bland you might think it is. If they totally refuse it or won’t eat more than the first bite, just wait a while before putting it on their plate again and keep going – sometimes it can take more than a dozen tries.
Try not to give in: when your child refuses a food it’s so easy to give in and give them something you know they will like. This will create bad habits as they will know that you will give in and they will get something thy will like.
Change the look: sometimes changing the form or appearance of a food can make it more appealing for your toddler. Some may adore carrot sticks as a snack but dislike cooked carrots on a roast dinner, and others may be the total opposite. If all else fails, grating carrot or blending other vegetables into a sauce can be a useful way of sneaking more of their five a day into their food if they’re not keen.
Snacks and drinks: it can be tempting to give multiple snacks a day to make up for the fact they won’t eat much at mealtimes, but that can be counterintuitive as they still only have tiny tummies and it can fill them up and cause more problems than it solves. Similarly, if you’re giving them high-calorie drinks like milk (or if they’re still breast or bottle feeding) you need to take into account how this will alter their appetite when it comes to food.
It’s just a phase: no matter how frustrating it is and how sick you are of throwing away uneaten food, try to remember in most cases it’s just a phase. If you’re really concerned, then your health visitor can be a good source of advice and if your child is losing weight then definitely get them booked in with their GP.
At Little Explorers Day Nursery we always let you know what your child’s eaten during the day and how much. We are always happy to talk to you about any encouragement techniques we’ve found useful and use techniques you use at home so that they get a consistent message. We will work in partnership with you to support your child in any way we can.