Toddlers are a funny bunch, especially when it comes to food! It can be a trying time especially if they are fussy. But like everything else they are into, this is an exploration phase where they get to experience new tastes and textures and work out what they like…or don’t like so much. The best advice I received from our local Plunket nurse is that toddlers won’t starve, they will always make sure they eat what they require – even though it may seem like a small amount to us parents. The important thing to remember is as long as good healthy wholesome food is offered at different meal times throughout the day they will get the nourishment they need often by grazing or snacking. If they are growing and developing well they will be getting all the good stuff they need. You can always talk to a health professional if you are concerned. It’s best to not fuss or make a big deal over what they eat or don’t eat and to encourage them to join in at meal times so they can watch and learn how the rest of the family eats. Food plays a big part in our society and culture, it brings people together, encourages sharing and allows conversation and stories to flow between friends. Allowing your little ones to be a part of it can provide so many rich learning experiences to help nurture and develop a healthy attitude and positive relationship with food.
1. Offer up a tasting plate! A plate with a variety of tastes and textures for them to explore is a great way to introduce them to new foods. Depending on their age you can cater each plate to what you have available and what’s in season.
2. Let them sit with you! Include them at dinner times by letting them sit up to the table with the whole family. The phil&teds range of highchairs, including the poppy highchair allows your little ones to easily be a part of family mealtime when it’s time to dig in! The tray is also extra large, easy to clean & perfect for all that food exploration and experimentation.
3. Don’t stress about the mess! Little ones learn best by doing so using their hands allows them to further develop those fine motor skills. Let them squish, mash and pick up their food and try to hold back from always trying to clean them down. Let them get a bit grubby, they will soon learn to feed themselves as they become more co-ordinated. Oh yeah and be prepared for the “I look like I am really enjoying this and I might eat it but actually I am going to chew it up and spit it all out again” face. Just remember it’s all in the name of the taste testing journey.
4. Encourage your little one to eat the same foods as you do! Once they start to get the hang of this eating business, you can begin to dish up toddler friendly portions of what the rest of the family are eating (provided it is healthy well balanced and nutritious of course!) If they see everyone else eating and enjoying delicious vegetables they will be tempted and enticed to give it a try too. Don’t be disappointed if they don’t like certain tastes straight away it can take a bit of time for them to get used to the different flavours and textures. They will soon learn that if they are hungry they will eat what’s on their plate.
5. Go easy on the drink! Avoid giving a lot of juice, sugary drinks or milk before meal times. Toddlers tummies are small and liquid will fill them up fast. This may take away their appetite and their interest in their meal. Water is always the best choice between meals as it will keep them hydrated but not full.
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Do you have any tips can you share with our p&t friends that can help them out if they are finding toddler feeding times tough?
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