Do you worry that your toddler is becoming a fussy eater?

Well, the good news is that you can you can stop worrying because, fussy eating is simply a stage that many toddlers go through, often in their second year.

Having raised 3 children of my own and looking after my grandson (that’s him in the photo above), I can tell you from experience, that a toddler’s appetite may vary from eating lots at some meals, to barely touching anything during others. Also, it’s not unusual for a toddler to suddenly refuse a food that has been a favourite.

Although this can be stressful and frustrating for a parent, try to remember this is a normal stage of development that your toddler will soon grow out of.img_0027.jpgWhen my youngest son Anthony (there he is with his puppy) went through this stage, I would worry that he was not eating enough mainly because the amount of weight he was gaining had slowed down. So I raised this with our doctor and was told that it is quite normal for a toddler’s weight gain to slow down after their first birthday. He said that as long as Anthony was active and energetic, I shouldn’t worry.

Initially I tried to ‘encourage’ Anthony to eat, but soon realised that pressuring him only created more anxiety for us both. So, I decided to simply offer him food at mealtimes and accept that he could regulate his own intake. I soon realised that he would eat enough to meet his needs.dsc02599.jpgEventually, Anthony grew out of his fussy eating stage and developed a very healthy appetite as a young boy. I am happy to say that both Anthony (the one in the middle) and his brothers, have grown into healthy young men with good eating habits. They love good wholesome food and are open to trying new tastes – which is great because I loving experimenting.

As I now have a grandson, I am reliving this developmental stage with Pedro and see many similarities between him and Anthony. When my daughter-in-law expresses concern about Pedro not being interested in certain food, I try to reassure her by offering suggestions from my own experience on what to do.

Here are some tips to make mealtimes more enjoyable and help you get through what can be a difficult stage of raising children.

Be a good example – Let your child see you make healthy eating choices each day. This is a very powerful way to send healthy food messages. Children learn by watching and will want to do what they see you doing.

Eat together as a family – Spend time enjoying eating meals together as a family as often as possible to reinforce that mealtime is special time.

Expose your child to a variety of food from a young age – This is important for developing good eating habits. It may take up to 15 attempts for your child to like a new food, so don’t give up because they turn their nose up at it the first time. Try offering small amounts and presenting it in a fun engaging way.

Include foods from the different food groups – This will ensure your child gets the range of nutrients and vitamins they need. This includes:

  • Plenty of vegetables (both cooked and raw), legumes and fruits
  • Plenty of cereals (preferably wholegrain), including bread, pasta, noodles and rice
  • Lean meat, fish and poultry
  • Milk, yogurt and cheese (reduced-fat varieties are not suitable for children under 2 years)
  • Plenty of water (including with meals)

Food should not only be good for you, food should taste good, it should be social and it should be enjoyed!

As a mother, food for my family is much more than simply a necessity and, regardless of how old they are, the need to provide good wholesome food will always be a priority for me. I guess that’s why I spend endless hours in the kitchen preparing a home-cooked dishes for our Sunday family dinner.

If you have ongoing concerns about your child’s fussy eating, see your doctor or health professional.

Feel free to visit my GOOD FOOD FOR LITTLE PEOPLE page or navigate Recipe Finder and try my 'kiddie friendly' recipes with your family. Check back from time to time as I add new ones.