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Parenting the “Picky Eater”

Parenting the “Picky Eater”

Having a child that is a picky eater can sometimes leave parents feeling very frustrated and discouraged. However, it is important to remember that this too, can be developmentally appropriate behavior. After a year of rapid growth (the average one-year-old has tripled her birth weight), toddlers gain weight more slowly. So, of course, they need less food. The fact that these little ones are always on the go also affects their eating patterns. They don’t sit still for anything, even food. Snacking their way through the day is more compatible with these busy explorers’ lifestyle than sitting down to a full-fledged feast.

Toddlers like to binge on one food at a time
They may eat only fruits one day, and vegetables the next. Since erratic eating habits are as normal as toddler mood swings, expect your picky eater to eat well one day and eat practically nothing the next. Toddlers from one to three years need between 1,000 and 1,300 calories a day, yet they may not eat this amount every day. Aim for a nutritionally-balanced week, not a balanced day

There’s a lot to remember when preparing meals for a family. But here are some “mealtime myths” that you can give up forever.

  • Forcing your child to eat. It turns out that forcing usually leads to the child eating less. Forcing also teaches children to ignore their own sense of hunger and fullness, which doesn’t lead to healthy eating habits or good self-esteem.
  • Nagging or making deals about food. Strategies like, “Just two more bites,” and “If you eat your vegetables, you can have dessert,” will not work in the long run. Children catch on quickly if there are rewards to be won and will soon bargain around many behaviors.
  • Worrying about your child being picky. Even though many parents worry about their children’s food intake, most of them are getting enough nutrition. Ask your health care provider if you are worried about your child’s weight, growth, or eating habits (keeping a food diary for a week can help with this conversation).
    Remember that meals are about more than just food. They are a time to connect with your child and support his overall development. Turn off the TV, silence the cell phones, and make mealtimes screen-free for everyone. Sit together as a family, and take time to talk together and enjoy one another. This simple mealtime routine helps build strong family relationships, and a healthy relationship with food.

Source: Zero to Three

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