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What To Do with a Picky Eater

What To Do with a Picky Eater

Toddlers often experience a decrease in appetite which may cause concern for parents. Be reassured that this is normal.

A poor appetite or slow eating may be due to a toddler who is...

  • experiencing a slower growth rate
  • tired or excited at meal time
  • exploring food
  • not feeling well
  • drinking too much milk or juice

Parents can try...

  • offering toddler size portions with opportunities for seconds
  • setting regular meal and snack times - ones that work best for the toddler and the family
  • respecting the toddler's ability to determine how much food to eat
  • limiting snacks and juice before meal time
  • having a few minutes of quiet time before meals
  • removing distractions at meal times such as television
  • making time for healthy eating so that meals and snacks are not rushed
  • limiting meal time to 20 minutes. Wait until next usual meal or snack time before eating again
  • limiting milk to 2-3 8oz servings per day
  • limiting juice to 4oz per day
  • setting a good example by eating a wide variety of foods
  • serving a small portion of a favourite food with a variety of other foods at meal time
  • eating new foods with the toddler
  • serving a small portion of a new food
  • offering food in different forms, for example, raw instead of cooked
  • serving food in a favourite dish
  • encouraging the toddler to try an unpopular food again another time

Toddlers will often show preference for a particular food and not want to eat anything else. This is usually their way of showing their independence. Parents should respect their toddler's likes and dislikes and not make a "big deal" about this because it's normal.

Toddlers will often show their independence by asserting their dislikes and refusing some foods. They may be mimicking others' food dislikes.

The Two Year Old…

  • is growing more slowly, so appetite
  • can be smaller
  • uses a spoon well and insists on
  • "doing it myself"
  • likes food cut into bite size pieces
  • shows independence in food "likes"
  • and "dislikes"
  • sits in a booster seat at the table
  • is still a messy eater
  • copies others

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