How to Get a Toddler to Eat
Vanessa Millovich DCN RDN LDN
If your toddler eats all the time, this article isn’t for you. This if for the mom’s who worry that their kid eats too little. One thing we do know for sure: if your toddler doesn’t eat you think about it a lot. We’ve been there. Here are some of our favorite tips to help you get a toddler to eat.
If you’re calm, your child will learn to be calm
First, if you pressure your little one to eat, it stresses your kid out. Stress is one reason your toddler isn’t eating.
Moreover, that stress spills over to everyone you eat with. For example, in these situations, parents, caregivers, siblings, and the child all feel the pressure of eating. Take a step back and realize that you share your feelings of anxiety with everyone at the table.
Keep this in mind while you’re at the table. It will help you set a calmer foundation, and most likely, your child will take notice.
How to get a toddler to eat? Don’t pressure
Second, let’s talk about pressure. It is super tempting to beg your toddler to just take one bite of something on their plate. But, don’t do it! Hate to say it, but this pressure actually doesn’t work. Or, if it does, it’s a short term solution. For example, one study showed that kids who were pressured to eat actually ate less. Further, another study in college students showed that years later kids still hated the foods they HAD to eat as children.
Establish a schedule- but be flexible about it
Next up, schedules. One thing that helps parents is when they establish a schedule around eating. Schedules can help everyone at the meal know what is expected of them. For instance, you just need to try your best to sit-down at the table for meals and snacks around the same time, each day. If something comes up and the routine has to change, NBD. However, if your child sees and hears how upset you get if a meal isn’t on-time, they take on that anxiety. That can make it harder for kids to feel ready to eat. So, be chill mama!
Discuss the mealtime routine with your spouse, kids, and family
Our next tip: get everyone involved in mealtime on the same page. With a routine, you signal expectations that everyone can learn to follow. Plus, when there are ground rules around mealtime, it helps to make the entire experience feel less stressful. For example, some ground rules Foublie coaches use are:
- Food is only eaten at the table
- When kids leave the table that means dinner is done
- Parents only make one dinner, you are not a short order cook
Remember this is a process
Lastly, we want you to know this takes time. Remember, positive changes start to happen a little bit over time. For instance, every step you take to improve mealtime, is a step to help your toddler learn to eat – and eventually they will eat.
Want more support?
We’ve got a full library of picky eating resources. If you’re in a talking mood…some days it’s just easier to talk to an expert. You can connect with a Foublie coach for personalized advice. You’ve got this!
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