Do You Have a Grazer? Does your toddler eat a bite of food and get up from the table to play for 15 minutes and then come back? If your answer is, “yes”, then you have a grazer. It’s not uncommon for toddlers to be grazers. If you happen to have one of these grazers, you may want to leave a selection of foods out, that doesn’t spoil, for your child to come along and grab a couple of bites from throughout the day.
If you have a grazer, there are several steps that you can take to increase the likelihood of your toddler eating ample calories through proper nutrients and develop healthy eating habits. Let’s explore those five steps.
1. Ditch the Junk Food
The first step to ensure that your grazing toddler gets the right number of calories and nutrients during a day is to eliminate junk food. When your child moves from being an infant to a toddler, their overall growth is not as rapid. As a result, their need for calories will be proportionately less than the few months previously. With a reduced need for calories, your toddler can easily overeat on junk food and not have room for the important nutrients that they need for proper development. Consequently, ditching junk food is a must.
2. Ease of Access
Again, with a grazing toddler, they will walk by and pick up something to eat and then “go”. It might only be one piece of food, but it’s something. In this case, you need to have non-refrigerated food items within easy reach of your toddler. A quick word of warning. A piece of watermelon or a strawberry is a great snack that your toddler can pick up and take a bite out of if you don’t mind ants crawling on your carpet in a trail after your child. Seriously, leave the messy items to those times that you can get your child to sit still or they’re outside. What are some good snacks for your grazing toddler that won’t leave a mess or spoil? Some good snack choices for your little one to grab and go include whole grain crackers, frozen yogurt covered blueberries, bananas, and homemade trail mix or muffins.
3. Have Fun
When providing meals or snacks for your grazer, you should make it fun. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest for ways to add color, shapes, and designs to your food. The key is to make your child feel like food is exciting and not something that “mom” constantly nags about. The toddler years are the time for learning independence and developing their own individual personality. As a result, it is good to avoid as many power struggles as possible. When food is a choice instead of a something that is pushed on your child, then you will achieve greater success with instilling healthy eating habits.
5. Provide Choice
When providing grazing toddlers with snacks, you can see greater success in getting those precious calories eaten when you leave out a variety of items for your toddler to choose from. Again, anything that gives the perception of more control will be pleasing to your toddler. By combining the ability to get it themselves with choosing the type of food and how much they want to eat, you will see an increase in food eaten and a decrease in your worry that your child will not develop healthy eating habits.
5. Introduce New Foods
Lastly, when selecting snacks for your toddler to eat, you should continue to introduce new food items. However, you shouldn’t feel discouraged if your toddler refuses to eat the food the first few times that they see it. It is natural for your child to fear new food items based on their color, texture or other weird phobias they are currently dealing with. Heck, even when they’re 9 and you stick a bowl of homemade vegetable soup in front of them, you can expect annoying gagging and looks of revulsion. How dare you try to poison your child with home cooking! Nevertheless, by continuing to introduce new foods to your child, the increased exposure, without pressure, will result in trying new foods. I swear. Actually, I do lots of swearing, but that’s beside the point.
Dealing with a grazing toddler can be alarming. However, there are different steps that you can incorporate to help your child develop healthy eating habits. Some of these steps include ditching the junk food, providing ease of access to snacks, having fun with food choices, providing multiple choices, and encouraging a variety of new foods. By following these steps, you can reduce your fears that your grazing toddler is not getting enough calories or proper nutrients. And for all you “bad” moms out there, if one day, all your toddler ends up eating is a can of Pringles and ice pops, there is always tomorrow. Or, the next day. We all need a cheat day here and there.
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