Feeding toddlers can be tricky business. It's not the same as feeding an infant by any means. Human beings experience their most rapid growth during the first 12 months of life. Once a child graduates from infancy to toddlerhood, their growth rate slows significantly, appetites slow down,and their dietary needs change.
Not to mention, toddlers fiercely want independence, and are growing into their own unique personalities. That sweet, smiling infant may suddenly become defiant, stubborn, and disagreeable. This is completely normal, albeit frustrating for parents and caregivers. These behavioral changes are signs that a toddler is trying to establish his or her own individuality, and are milestones in themselves.
How does this carry over to the table? Well, a baby who may have eaten everything under the sun may suddenly ONLY want to eat one thing...all the time. When my oldest child was around 2, he went through a phase where the only things he wanted to eat were oatmeal and yogurt. While these are indeed healthy choices, they do not make for a complete and balanced diet. This is a phase he outgrew, but it took time and effort on his part and on mine. Oh, and lots and lots of patience!
Toddlers are creatures of habit. They like what is familiar, and they generally stick to it. A child in China may love rice and steamed vegetables, where a child here in the USA may prefer macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. This may cause a child to become resistant to trying new foods. This is also known as Neophobia.
Part of breaking the cycle of fearing that which is unknown is to introduce new foods on a weekly basis. For example, my daughter loves noodles of all kinds. She would eat nothing but noodles if I allowed it. So when I introduce something new, such as sliced avocados, I will incorporate it into her noodle dish. I always add a protein, whether it be chicken, beef, or beans as well. She is usually resistant to new foods at first, but by the end of the week, she will happily gobble them up.
Another way to help growing toddlers get the best nutrition is to provide consistency in their eating environment. While it's easy to plop down in front of a distracting television, this isn't the best place for kids to become familiar with new foods or focus on eating. As a matter of fact, doing this can lead to bad eating habits later on in life, such as blind eating or eating out of boredom rather than hunger. It's best to have a quiet place to eat, and offer cheers and encouragement as a child tries new foods.
These are just a few of the challenges feeding a toddler can present. For more tips and information about toddler nutrition, check out this amazing article from the folks at Earth's Best!
Feeding Your Toddler: A Creative Challenge
***Disclosure: As an Earth's Best Blogger, I receive samples and information to facilitate my posts. No other compensation is given and all opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***
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