Feeding fussy toddlers is one of the most common concern areas of parents. 

The more the young ones get picky and cranky over food, the more the parents worry about nutrition.

There is also a popular belief that whatever is healthy is not tasty and vice versa. By the age of 12-18 months, babies develop a strong sense of taste. This adds to the problem. They fuss, and parents panic.

A fussy toddler is one who refuses to eat new food at least half of the time and usually cranky while eating. In this phase, the growth rate slows down, compared to infancy, hence the appetite is reduced.

At the same time, the toddlers start developing a sense of self. Refusing to eat and being fussy could be an expression of proclaiming independence as well.

If parents understand the underlying causes of feeding fussy toddlers, there would be less room for worries and frustrations. There are ways of tackling this situation as well. Though each child is different from the other, there are some tried and tested methods of feeding fussy toddlers. 

Here are 6 such useful tips that could bring in a win-win situation to the feeding fussy toddlers and the parents together:

  1. Break meals in small portions: The stomachs of toddlers are still small; hence they would not be able to eat much at a time. Feeding them small portions in a gap of three hours might work well with them.

    They could also be overwhelmed when served food in big quantity. Serving smaller portions of food might relieve the fussy toddlers as well as prevent wastage of food.

  2. Eat with them: If other family members or other kids eat together with toddlers, they might find it fun. Children grow up imitating behaviour. When they see others eat, they would eat too.
    Little conversations during a family meal would keep them involved and occupied and make them fuss less.

  3. Combination of food: Combine healthy food with something the child prefers to eat. For example, offer boiled veggies with cheese. Try and introduce as many kind of new food as possible along with preferred food, as this is the time they learn to eat a variety of nutrients.
    Try and offer food that doesn’t taste blunt. Use some home-made sauce, ketchup, dips or condiments to add taste.

  4. Make food interesting: Add a lot of colours, fragrances and shapes to the food. Toddlers get attracted to eye-catching, well laid out meals.
    Experiment with shapes, like cutting pieces of bread in the shape of hearts, flowers, or use veggies to make eyes, nose and smile on the loaves. Encourage eating on their own.

  5. Offer again: If your fussy little one refuses to eat, do not rebuke, force or reward. Do not get exasperated. He or she might not be in a mood, or might not be hungry. Keep it away and offer it again in some time.

  6. Involve them: Taking the kids to grocery stores and allow them to touch and see vegetables and fruits, involving them is the cleaning and storing might grow their interest in food.
    You may make them see how they are cooked, or let them help you in non-fire cooking. Make the little one prepare some salads along with you, or spread jam on the bread.

Hunger is a basic instinct.

A hungry child will always fill his or her tummy. Let your toddler be hungry. Make them play, run and do a lot of physical activity. This would make them crave for food and not be too fussy all the time.
Sometimes, too much of attention makes them fuss. Make eating a normal activity, do not let it make you or your child treat it with fear, panic, or disgust.

As long as your child is healthy, active and growing well, know that he or she is certainly receiving enough nutrition. However, if fussy eating gets in the way of being healthy, do consult a doctor.

By and large, toddlers are picky about food. Being fussy is a normal phenomenon in this stage of life. Try the 6 ideas discussed above. It might turn your fussy eater into a happy eater most of the time.

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