Do you struggle with getting your 2-4 year old to eat? Are they picky eaters? What about getting them to eat healthy! Let’s just say, The Struggle is Real! After some google researching, doctor visits, and follicle pulling I’ve come to realize that they will eat when they are ready. To be honest, just because you’re hungry doesn’t mean they are! I have struggle with picky toddlers for the past eight years. I have a nine year old, seven year old, five year old and a two year old and every one of them have had a period where they refused to eat anything.
I’ve even had friends who I have watched struggle and get frustrated because their child wouldn’t eat!! Now let’s be clear, when I say not eat I mean maybe they won’t eat breakfast but will eat lunch and maybe dinner. Or they will eat breakfast but won’t eat lunch. We also have to remember their belly’s aren’t as big as ours. So consider maybe they are still full after a breakfast and morning snack!
Making an appointment and getting advice from your child’s primary pediatrician is the best solution but here are a few things I have done to lower the stress!
1. Don’t force them to eat. Seriously! If they are hungry and want to eat, they will eat. Children are not like adults. If their brains tell them to eat then that’s what they are going to do. Unlike adults, we tend to wait and wait and wait. Knowing that we haven’t had a meal most of the day.
2. Try some fun foods! I am a Pinterest.com fanatic. The ideas are almost endless. You can make shapes out the sandwiches, or make a grape caterpillar. Maybe for breakfast make pancakes in a fun shape or character like Mickey Mouse!! Also, you can purchase cups that change colors when it’s hot or cold. Pretty neat and interesting to them. For example: (Not my pic. Photos from Pinterest)
3. Let them help you prepare! You can purchase nylon knives for them. With obviously parental guidance and help still, allow them to cut their sandwiches in half or their fruit and veggies!
4. Dinner is probably the most difficult time because it’s hard to decide on what will occupy their minds to eat. Well typically by the end of the day our little munchkins want to eat! But you can definitely make it more interesting for your toddler. At this time try not to turn on the tv or give them any electronics. I’ve found that when their little minds are occupied by the virtual world they don’t want to eat and it’s a fight to get them to stop what they are doing to sit at the table and eat. Again, let them help you prepare. If you’re not comfortable with them being around the stove(well of course at 2-4yo) then let them prepare the table. A plate with colors or the food group may help as well. For example:
4. Have a basket of fruit, veggies, or their favorite snack accessible! Maybe a small table at their reach will help. Through out the day when they get hungry, even if it’s not around the scheduled time you eat or snack, they will have something in arms reach when they are ready.
All of these things have worked for my family! It’s not 100% guaranteed that it may work for yours but I’m very confident it’s worth the try. Again, please if you are concerned about your toddler eating then contact his/her doctor. It’s very important that you have an educated and professional advice about your child’s diet. Nonetheless, I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know if any of them work for you and your toddler and leave a comment if you have any other ways to encourage our toddlers to eat. I would love to hear them.