During the exciting toddler years, there is a significant development in fine and gross motor, social, cognitive and emotional areas. They become less dependent and begin to master an increasing number of skills. During this period your child becomes increasingly competent in self-feeding and will very likely develop and express (quite clearly!) definite preferences over food.
There is also a slower rate of growth compared with infancy: weight gain is 2-3kg and height 6-8cm per year up until puberty. As growth declines, there is a natural decrease in appetite and food intake may become erratic and unpredictable.
Often, a child’s growing independence reveals itself in tantrums over food during mealtimes. Do not get involved in food battles. Toddlers revel in the extra attention that parental worries over food, create. So, how exactly do you deal with fussy eating toddlers?
The secret to dealing with toddler feeding problems is to accept them as a normal part of your toddler’s development and stay calm. Remember your toddler will NEVER starve themselves!
Many toddlers seem to lose interest in eating at this age, and this is usually not a cause for concern. Children’s appetites fluctuate from day to day and the sum total of what your child eats over a week is more important than what happens in just one day.
For a toddler, eating is often an unwelcome intrusion into the main business of life – which is playing. Playing, after all is the way in which your child explores the world and develops new skills. If you can make mealtimes an opportunity for play, learning and socialising, your child is likely to eat more.
Is my toddler getting enough?
- Monitor height and weight growth to ensure your toddler is thriving
- If they persist to endure a hunger-strike, ensure that they are receiving adequate vitamins and minerals by way of supplement milk or a multivitamin during this period.
- Emotions are closely linked to appetite – examine if your child is anxious about something
- Loss of appetite is often linked to illness or teething
Parental concern is common and understandable during this stage and the heart of meal-time problems is often due to the high expectations that the child cannot meet It is common for toddlers to refuse to eat some food and/ or to develop distinctive preferences over other food. Realise that this is a stage and continue to offer your child a variety of healthy foods on a daily basis remembering that your role as a role-model is pivotal for them to succeed in developing healthy eating habits for the rest of their lives.