Tips for dealing with a picky toddler

By Drum Digital
28 April 2014

Are you struggling with a picky toddler who simply refuses to eat certain foods? And are you worried they might be at risk of malnutrition?

“Three meals a day for any toddler is not enough and this is especially true of picky eaters,” says Saskia Zietsman, a registered dietician from Cape Town. “Offer difficult eaters at least six small meals a day.”

These meals and snacks should be healthy and balanced, she advises. “If your toddler does not drink his milk during breakfast, give him the option between cheese and yoghurt as a snack. Or if he refuses to eat his piece of fruit at lunchtime, offer him a small glass of 100 per cent fruit juice as an afternoon snack instead.

“With a little effort you can make meals and foods more toddler-friendly. It will be well worth the effort in both the short and long run. By setting the correct dietary foundations for your toddler today, you are ensuring him or her of a healthier, happier tomorrow.”

Here are Saskia’s tips for picky eaters aged 4-6

  1. The first and most important thing: lead by good example. Toddlers are influenced most by their parents. Think twice about the food you eat – what example are you setting?
  2. Involve your toddler with the following:

  • PURCHASES – Try taking them with you to the grocery store and let them choose which vegetables, fruit, yoghurt or cheese should be put in the trolley. If you have more than one child, try taking them on these excursions individually every now and then.
  • PLANNING – Let your toddler plan the family meals with you. Give them two or three healthy options and let him choose which one sounds best.
  • PREPARATION – Allow them to help you prepare the food. Your toddler can arrange chopped salad ingredients in the salad bowl/peel hard-boiled eggs/put chopped fruit blocks on a stick to make fruit skewers/set the table.

  1. Don’t start “hiding” vegetables in food by chopping it up or grating it in desperation. This doesn’t help to cultivate a love for healthy food in your toddler.

Enjoy meals together as a family. Sit at the table, switch off the television and cellphones. Be upbeat, chat with each other and forget what happened at the previous mealtime. Make each evening the first evening for change.

Find Love!