Picky Eaters: Tips for Feeding Toddlers
by Susie Beghin
A positive eating environment early in life can help to establish healthy nutrition and eating patterns even for the pickiest of eaters.
Even toddlers can learn about the four food groups. A well balanced meal full of nutrient-rich food is fundamental to creating healthy eating patterns. The Canada Food Guide is a fabulous resource to explain appropriate serving sizes and the best food choices for your toddler’s meals and their snacks.
A Positive Environment
Avoiding power struggles over food is key to establishing a positive eating environment. A positive environment can aid a picky eater in exploring and tasting a wide variety of foods. Textures, spices, dipping sauces and even shapes can change how a toddler responds to food. As a parent or caregiver, it is your responsibility to ensure the food consists of healthy choices and determine when it will be served. The child should have a say in how much they eat.
Explore New Foods
When exploring new foods with a picky eater, it’s helpful to offer one new item at a time and give it in a small amount. If a child doesn’t like that particular item, it’s okay if they do not eat it, but offer it again at a later date. Sometimes it can take a few times before a child realizes they in fact like it.
Be a Good Role Model
It’s hard to get a child to eat chicken and broccoli when you are eating a chocolate bar. Make sure you eat with your toddler so that they can see you enjoying healthy food choices. Discuss how different foods can help your body become strong and start informing your picky eater that healthy food is one of the building blocks of a healthy body.
Try planning snack time so it doesn’t interfere with their appetite for when it’s time to eat a meal. Sometimes a picky eater can be someone who just isn’t hungry. Remember a healthy snack and a treat are not the same thing. Incorporate foods from a few different food groups to help your toddler reach their overall daily requirements. Make snack time fun by using cookie cutters, and food with different colours and textures.
At Alpha’s Preschool Academy, we aim to make mealtime both a positive and nutritious experience. We follow the Canada Food Guide and find interesting ways to incorporate all food groups in our meals and snacks. Check out our menu for some ideas. By creating a pleasant environment and positively reinforcing the activity of trying new foods, even the pickiest of eaters may increase what they eat and enjoy a variety of healthy options.