According to new research, 46% of parents think their toddler is a fussy eater. But their worries may be unfounded. According to clinical psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin, the chances are that they’re actually just becoming more independent.
“The toddler years are a time when little ones want to start taking charge, and it’s a crucial stage in their development,” she says. “For parents that can be hard and especially when it comes to food, as they try to do their job of feeding the little one well and the toddler is doing their job of showing they have their own opinions.”
It’s why it might be worth thinking about how you can provide more variety, more simply. Always keep two different kinds of vegetables or fruit in your travel bad, or if you’re going the snack route, use something like the Organix Snack Chest, a new mixed flavour bag of organic, junk-free Mini Oaty Bites.
In fact, you should be encouraging toddler independence – but how? Here are 5 things to try from Dr Rudkin.
1. Talking: Talk to your toddler to help their language skills. For example, tell them what’s for tea, and the different foods on their plate.
2. Choices: Giving toddlers choices teaches the important skill of compromise, and helps them feel informed and able to assert their independence. Use the “Two Choices” approach. For example, at tea time tell your toddler they have two choices.
3. Doing it themselves: In the toddler years, children naturally want to learn, explore and do things by themselves. Food is a great opportunity to encourage their growing independence – whether a grow-your-own vegetable pot, helping with the shopping.
4. Explore: Allow them to explore appropriate independence – such as a blunt knife to cut up food, a spoon to put food on their plate and remember it’s ok if it gets a little messy!
5. How much to eat? Talk to your toddler about the importance of eating a good amount of food, ask them how many mouthfuls they think they could eat. You can negotiate around this, but often what they say will be a true indication of how much they want.