September 30, 2023

Feeding Your Toddler

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Brandi Propas is the newest addition to The International Medical Group. She is a registered dietician and her services are a welcome complement to the clinic.

Does it feel like the only words out of your toddler’s mouth at meal time is “no”? Frustrated that your child is a picky eater?

Helping toddlers learn to eat right and feed themselves is a challenge but there are some steps you can take to make things easier.

The first thing to remember is the division of responsibility when it comes to meal time. Parents are responsible for some things but your child is also in control of certain things as well. As a parent, it is your job to decide when meal and snack time will be, what foods to offer and where your child will eat. Your child however gets to decide how much they will eat and even if they will eat at all.

Regarding how much your child will eat remember too, that toddlers have tiny tummies. They are much more likely to want several small meals and snacks throughout the day than three large meals, which is what we are accustomed to as adults. Your toddler’s appetite will also change from day-to-day and may decrease when growth slows.

There may also be days, even weeks at a time, when it seems like your toddler wants to eat the same foods every day.  This is called a food jag and is very common and a normal part of the growing process. It also takes numerous exposures to a new food before your child will try it and even more exposures before they will like it. When serving a new food always serve it with a food your child likes as they are more likely to try the new food this way. If your child refuses a new food, try preparing it a different way next time. Adding sauces, serving a new food in a soup, or serving it with a dip may help you entice your child to try it. Experiment with textures, colours and shapes.

In addition to being patient when introducing new foods, also be a role model and try the food yourself. This is especially true for introducing vegetables. If you turn your nose up every time broccoli is served, then you cannot expect your child to have a positive attitude towards broccoli either. Children want to do what their parents and caregivers are doing so the more your child sees you eating veggies (or any food they are hesitant to eat) the more likely they are to try it and like it.

No matter how frustrated you are getting, remember to never force-feed your child, withhold food, trick your child into eating or use food as a reward or punishment. If your child is misbehaving then discipline them with a time out or removing TV time, not by withholding dinner. Similarly if your child performed well at school, reward them with a new set of crayons, not with cake.

The more pleasant the meal time experience is for your child the more likely they are to eat and try new foods. Remove distraction (turn off the TV!) and sit down with your child. Engage in conversation and eat with your child, don’t just feed them. In fact the more you let your child feed himself the more likely they are to eat.

Remember it is normal for toddlers to dislike some foods and most toddlers who are picky eaters will not be picky eaters when they are older.

Easy Fruit Shake Recipe

Blend together:
• ¾ cup plain yogurt (full fat)
• ¾ cup fresh fruit of your choice
• 2 Tbsp of frozen orange juice concentrate

Healthy snack ideas for your Toddler

• Yogurt
• Veggies sticks with cottage cheese or tzatziki dip
• Celery sticks with cream cheese or peanut butter
• Crackers with cheese, peanut butter, hummus
• Dry unsweetened cereal
• Muffin with fruit
• Pita pockets with veggies and cheese
• Hard-boiled egg
• Cold pancakes with cream cheese
• Tuna on crackers
• Fruit
• Smoothie or fruit shake

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