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Has Your Toddler Become a Fussy Eater

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    It can be a great worry if your child refuses to eat or is terribly fussy. However children will generally eat enough to keep themselves going. So try not to worry unless your child is clearly not gaining weight as they should be, or is obviously unwell.

    It may be that your child is picking up your own anxieties about food. If this is the case, it may be that mealtimes have become an ideal time to get attention.

    Just as anxiety may cause problems with potty training, it can also create issues with eating. So try to take a step back and think about how much of a problem there really is. Refusing to eat, or eating very little?

    As long as your child eats some food from each of the five food groups - even if it’s always the same old favourites - you shouldn’t worry. Gradually introduce other food choices. Alternatively why not to go back to the foods your child didn’t like earlier and try them again? Children’s taste changes, one day they’ll hate something, a week or so later they’ll love it!

    Remember, if your child is active and growing, they are probably getting enough to eat, however little it appears to be.

    Tips for success
    • Offer your child the same food as you are cooking for the whole family, and try to eat your meals together as much as possible.
    • Give smaller portions and praise your child for eating even if it is only a little.
    • If your child refuses the food, don’t force-feed him or her. Remove the food without comment.
    • Encourage healthy snacks between meals, such as a piece of fruit, raw veg sticks or a milk drink and a small cracker and cheese. 
    • Your child knows that refusing to eat will annoy you, so try to stay calm. Eating together as a family and eating the same foods will help to encourage good eating habits. 
    • If your child fills up with juice or squash between meals and refuses milk or a snack, try gradually, diluting the drink with water, and offer a small amount of food first. 
    • Sometimes, children mistake thirst for hunger and say they are thirsty when really they are hungry. Try to make mealtimes enjoyable and not just about eating. Sit down & have a chat about the day’s events.
    • Try and involve your child in the preparation and cooking of the meal.
    • Your child may just be a naturally slow eater, so lots of patience will be needed.
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