It is super common for a toddler, armed with newly found independence, to start challenging mom's suggestions and rather making his own voice heard.
It's true, and it is what it is. This new fondness of challenging each and every activity can be especially frustrating during mealtimes when babe starts to become downright defiant. The dreaded fussy eating phase is in full swing.
This phase, albeit incredibly frustrating, is just a phase and this too shall pass.
How to deal?
Well, like most explosive toddler situations the first rule is to share your calm, not join in the chaos. If your child sees you reacting calmly you will become an anchor for them to tie themselves to when it feels like their world is rocking.
Try your very best to have a positive attitude and keep mealtimes a pleasant experience for your little one. Getting visibly irritated by the situation will only add hostility and leave babe feeling quite uneasy when mealtime nears.
It's impertinent to remember that a toddler has a smaller stomach than a grown up. This is something we easily forget. Dishing up adult sized portions and being disappointed when your babe doesn't finish them is not the most realistic way to go about things. Toddlers are smarter than you think, they will eat enough to keep them alive - trust me. It might help not to fixate on what your little one eats in one meal, but rather to focus on what he takes in over the course of a week, before going into full panic mode.
Try offering new options alongside foods that your toddler is familiar with and likes to eat, offering completely new foods alone will make your babe uneasy about the whole business and put him into flight mode, refusing to even look at the new menu, let alone try to eat it. If you've added your new taster to a plate of familiar food and your toddler refuses to try it, don't try to force him, this will make his defiance even more urgent and cause negative connotations to eating.
Here are some tips to make mealtimes come and go without the big show of tears and fighting.
- Try to eat when your babe eats.
- Eat together as a family, our kids learn by watching us.
- Eat what you want your toddler to eat - when they see you enjoy hearty portions of certain foods they are sure to join in, since you're their role model and all.
- Stay positive. Keep mealtimes pleasant - a positive experience of familial unity at mealtimes will make your toddler look forward to eating.
- Eat at a table, away from distractions like the TV ( I know, difficult right!). Distractions are sure to make your babe forget all about the food in front of him.
- Offer appropriately cut food so your toddler will be able to touch, feel, smell his food before deciding if he wants to put it in his mouth. Self-feeding is an exciting responsibility for our little ones - they LOVE having control of their own eating.
- Have consistent mealtimes.
- Get some range on the stuff you offer, our little people might get bored with only eating salty options at lunchtime, try incorporating healthy sweet options like fruit and yoghurt to keep it interesting.
- Give small portions, a man-sized plate can intimidate a little one into stepping away completely
- Don't offer different food instead, this will create a precedent that will FO SURE irritate you in future. If you suspect your little one might not be into what you want to offer him, include a back up food that's part of your first offering.
- Snacks are great, just not right before a meal. Get the other roleplayers like grandma/dad/nanny on board with this rule.
Don't panic mama, give it time and keep setting a good example, trust in the process and if the process fails wait it out, it will have to end somewhere (teenagers eat your whole budget in a week)