Feeding toddlers is tricky. They’ve got their preferences, but they’re not quite able to voice them, so it’s always a guessing game for the parents. How many parents have tried a new product or recipe only to watch it go uneaten? If you have a particularly picky eater on your hands, the problem grows tenfold.
There’s no one-size-fits-all trick that will work for every child, unfortunately—they all see mealtime in their own way. The key is not so much getting them to eat what’s on the plate (although that’s the bottom line), but make them comfortable with eating solid food. Some toddlers may simply need more time to make the transition from soft food, while others simply have hard-to-please palates.
Every child, even a picky eater toddler, has a natural sense of what his or her body needs. So one thing you don’t’ want to do is force them to eat something they don’t want to, no matter how healthy it is. Having a variety of foods on hand for them to choose from may work better. Don’t sit and watch, or even coax them to eat—just put the plate on the high chair and don’t make a fuss over it.
When you try to introduce new foods, do so one at a time, and serve them alongside tried and tested favorites. That way, they have something to fall back on if they don’t like the new dish. Give them new foods in small amounts; even a teaspoon will do. Sometimes, seeing so much “new stuff” at once can intimidate the child and keep them from even trying.
You’re probably familiar with children saying they don’t like a certain food, although they’ve never seen it before. There’s no use trying to get them to see logic here; often, the reason they say it is that they don’t like the smell, the color, or the texture, or the food may be stirring up bad memories, such as when they were sick.
Once you get them to like something, try to “sneak” some health into it. This is especially useful if their favourite food isn’t exactly nutrient-packed, such as plain rice or cereal. Add some small diced vegetables to rice and broth, or some mashed or diced apples to his morning snack. As always, start small and gradually increase them until your child develops a taste for it—you just might find a new favourite!