What your toddler wants you to know about their eating habits

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Self-feeding is a massive milestone, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Here are four things to keep in mind.

As a first-time parent, you may have thought that the most challenging part of parenting would be the newborn stage. Little did you realise the trials you would face as you enter the toddler years. Little personalities coupled with big emotions and an inability to express themselves makes it feel like you are having a conversation in a foreign language. But while our toddlers may not be able to speak to us (yet), if we pay attention, they are particularly good at communicating, especially when it comes to their eating habits.

As babies become toddlers the parenting role of nourishing growing tummies continues – it’s still about the need to provide tasty, healthy meals and snacks that are nutritious, filling and simple to get into little people. With growing appetites comes growing independence, and it’s exciting and liberating when little people can eat and enjoy snacks and meals by themselves.


1. It’s normal for me to be a picky eater

It helps to know that you are not alone in the dinnertime struggles with your toddler. According to research, fussy eating is quite common in young children, peaking at 20 months and gradually fading away by five to eight years of age. This frustrating toddler habit is also about the need to express their independence as they figure out this new and exciting world. Like all things, this too shall pass.


Great news for parents of picky eaters – there is a new Squish 200 ml 100% fruit and veg puree offering, available in six delicious flavours specially made for growing kids with growing appetites. Squish purees are preservative free, colourant free and contain no artificial flavours or added starch. Available in a convenient pouch, Squish is perfect for mealtimes, snack times or on the go.


2. My appetite is never the same

Your child may eat breakfast like a king yet barely taste their dinner. It is very normal for your toddler’s appetite to change from day to day and even from meal to meal. Every toddler is different. Some wake up hungry and feast at breakfast, while others have bigger appetites when eating dinner with the family. 

Teething babies and toddlers are often not very interested in food, while growth spurts may mean you cannot keep up with their appetites. Rather than assuming they will eat the same amount at each mealtime, be guided by your toddler’s interest in food.

With good intentions, many parents will feed their toddlers at mealtimes. However, stepping back and letting your toddler feed themselves is a vital part of their development

3. I’ll tell you when I am full

Babies and toddlers are particularly good at listening to their bodies and eating when hungry and stopping when full (unlike adults). Pay attention and you will quickly learn when your little one has had enough to eat. The pace of eating slows down, and your toddler purses their lips closed. They may turn their head in defiance, push food away and even throw their food to the floor. If you don’t notice these initial signs, your toddler might get rather irritable and demand to leave the dinner table or get off their feeding chair.


4. Please can I feed myself

With good intentions, many parents will feed their toddlers at mealtimes. However, stepping back and letting your toddler feed themselves is a vital part of their development. The practice of self-feeding stimulates hand-eye coordination and is also important to encourage them to learn to listen to their fullness cues.

From about eight to nine months, you can start offering your baby age-appropriate finger foods like scrambled egg, small soft chunks of butternut or grated cheese, and toddler-friendly utensils can be used from 15 to 18 months. If you are nervous, serve some meals that allow your toddler to eat on their own and others that you guide.


For more information, visit squish.co.za

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