What is one of the biggest parenting guilt producers? Getting a picky toddler to eat everything and love it. There are plenty of other guilt producers but worrying about whether your toddler is eating enough food is right up there after getting adequate sleep, being in the right height and weight percentiles, and learning at the correct pace. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 are not growing as fast as they were during their first year, so their food needs will be less between growth spurts. As a result, your child is likely getting enough food for survival during this transition period. However, it can be hard to decide if the small amounts of foods that your toddler is eating are enough; especially if they stick their nose up to any new foods.
Does Your Toddler Have Healthy Eating Habits?
Eating enough is not the only food worry for parents. Another food worry is whether your toddler is getting enough nutrients from the foods that they are eating. If you have one of the picky eaters, ensuring that they get the right nutrients can be a struggle. However, throughout the week, it is likely that your child is getting enough of the nutrients that they need if you are following the below strategies. Let’s explore ways to help picky eaters to develop healthy eating habits.
Avoid Junk Food
One of the most important strategies for getting picky eaters to develop healthy eating habits is to avoid junk food in the house. When you have junk food in the house, it will be natural for your toddler to pick those foods over fruits and veggies. It is best to avoid overdeveloping the sweet tooth with sugary snacks when your child is a toddler. If you don’t have junk food available for snacking, your child will be able to choose foods that are better for them. Don’t wait to try and convince your first grader that they should avoid junk food. Unless they have a good friend that eats healthy, who they want to emulate, you’re going to be in for a fight. Have you ever been to a first-grade holiday party at school? It is utter chaos and the likelihood that your child will have chosen the one child in the class that eats healthy is slim.
The next strategy for getting picky eaters to develop healthy eating habits is to use dips. Most children love to get their hands dirty and then lick their fingers. Don’t believe me? Head to the playground and watch what toddlers put in their mouth. It’s disgusting! You don’t have to stop at chicken nuggets and French fries to get your child to use dip. All veggies and fruits can be dipped into homemade dips that are healthy and made without preservatives.
When your child is still a toddler, it is a great time to begin to incorporate different healthy foods such as blueberries, kale, chia seeds, and spinach into smoothies and muffins. Most children will eat smoothies, muffins, and other similar products. Why only stick unhealthy sweets in these products? When you start out, put small amounts of these superfoods into their food items, picky eaters will not notice the difference. Over time, you can increase the amount of these superfoods into their food to develop healthy eating habits.
Be a Good Role Model
This one is simple. Don’t eat junk food in front of your toddler. It’s not like you enjoy watching your best friend eat an apple turnover when you’re eating a leaf of spinach. If you want your child to be a healthy eater as they grow up, then you need to also make changes to your diet if you are struggling to have a healthy diet for yourself. Not to mention, by having healthy eating habits yourself, you can have more energy to play and have fun with your active toddler.
Avoid Power Struggles
The last tip for getting picky eaters to develop healthy eating habits is to avoid power struggles. Power struggles with your toddler, who is just learning to develop their own independence, is not a beneficial way to teach healthy eating habits. When you force foods onto your toddler, this can have a lasting negative impact. For example, your child could learn to overeat as you force them to eat past becoming full or your child could develop negative feeling towards healthy foods and only eat junk food when they are old enough to make their food choices. Additionally, it is best to introduce foods in small amounts and not make a big deal about whether they eat it the first time or not.
Dealing with picky eaters can be a struggle. However, there are many different strategies that you can incorporate to help your child develop healthy eating habits. Some of the best tips include avoiding junk food, incorporating dips, hiding superfoods within their foods, being a good role model to your child, and avoiding power struggles. By following these strategies, you will see improvements in your picky eater’s food choices.
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