Tag Archives: toddler eating

The trials of toddler eating.

I’ve now weaned 2 munchkins and both of them have been through fussy stages. One of them is still there. That initial weaning part is something I find fun. Messy but fun. I love watching small people try new foods, learn about textures and experiment with what foods does. Both of my children have eaten practically anything at this point. Miss K wouldn’t eat Wasabi (cruel mum alert – it was in hummus, I didn’t think it through, but to be fair she did eat chilli), the J-boy doesn’t like leeks and neither of them have liked lettuce. 

Toddlerhood is another matter. Suddenly around 15-18 months your “fairly happy to eat what I’m given” person turns into a “I’m going to refuse things that look healthy and that you know I normally eat” person. I’ve now weaned 2 munchkins and both of them have definitely had their fussy stages. It is so, so easy to take these stages as a personal affront to your cooking. To get frustrated and downright annnoyed when they tip a delicious plate of homecooked lasagne onto the floor without even trying it. I’ve been there. I’m still working through it. There isn’t always a rhyme or reason to it – That same lasagne was eaten quite happily the next day. Sometimes there is a very valid reason for their fussiness and sometimes it makes no sense at all. Here are some reasons your little one may be in a fussy stage.

Dietitian UK fussy eating in toddlers

Why I am being fussy mummy:

1. My teeth hurt. Teething has always had an effect on my munchkins eating. It makes perfect sense. If your mouth is hurting why would you want to eat certain foods? Miss K would eat anything in a puree form. The J boy refuses to eat vegetables and just wants softer, suckable foods like rice cakes, cheese, yoghurt. It’s at times like these that I have to get inventive.

2. I’m not feeling well. They can’t always tell us what is going on can they. I’ve found in the past that after getting slightly frustrated that small child has not eaten well at dinner, they suddenly keep me up most of the night with a temperature. 

3. It’s just a stage. Some children can alter they way they eat in response to a developmental leap or it could be they are trying to express themselves  or test out a boundary. I know when I am stressed or anxious it can affect my appetite. When your child is learning a new skill or going through a growth spurt it may affect their eating in the same way. Perhaps they want more of your attention and know not eating is a way to get it? Maybe they just want to see what happens if they refuse to eat things? It will all pass. 

4. They are learning something. In developmental leap periods children can become fussier with their food. If you brain is on slightly overload at one end it can lead to other areas being affected. There is a wonderful app called The Wonder Weeks that takes you through these stages and explains what can happen when your child is in a “leap”. 

5. They just want to see how you react. What will mummy/daddy do if I don’t eat something? Do I get a reaction? Being consistent and calm is so the key here. “Keep Calm and Carry On”. 

Top Tips:

Don’t show them that it gets to you! Trust me I get frustrated but I  remind myself that there will be a reason for the fussiness and use my “mummy poker face”.

Keep on offering a range of foods. Don’t assume because they didn’t eat it the other day that they have a dislike for that food. One day they will eat it, one day they may not.

There is no need to cook a different meal. If your little one is choosing not to eat then that is ok. My toddler boy seems to hardly eat anything for lunch. A nibble of a cracker and a spoon of hummus can be his lot. They all make up for it somewhere. 

Extra veggies can be added into snacks and meals by grating. I often grate in courgettes and carrots or stir in frozem spinach to muffins, cheese biscuits or main meals to boost the nutrition in them. Offer vegetables in different forms at different times. My small boy will eat a mountain of raw mushrooms when I am cooking dinner for example.

Relax. All children go through fussy stages. In the main these are just stages. They will pass. Keep on offering nutritious meals, plenty of variety and ride it out. 

Finally if you are at all worried then chat to mummy friends, they usually have the best advice and do get in touch if you need some extra support. 


The Joys of Toddler Eating.

Yesterday I was sat having lunch with my toddler, Kezia – hummous and rice cakes with avocado and tomato. All foods that I know she likes but avocado is one that we haven’t eaten in a while.

She tasted a slice of it, pulled a hilarious face, removed it from her mouth, and in true toddler love then handed it to me. You’ve got to love the sharing of sucked on, dribbled on, slightly chewed food. The next slice met with a similar facial expression and quickly ended up on the floor. Humph, cue not impressed mummy face.

With my mummy head I was thinking “Oh I guess she has gone off avocado” but then my dietitian head thought “I wonder if she just doesn’t like the way I’ve given it to her”. Nope, I’m not on medication for these voices in my head…yet 😉

So I mushed the avocado a little and spread it onto the rice cake, suddenly it was out of my hand and into small girls mouth, being eaten and enjoyed. No more avocado on the floor and no more sharing with mummy.

Dietitian UK: The suspect Avocardo
Dietitian UK: The suspect Avocado

Why am I sharing this? I guess I wonder how many other mummies sometimes assume their little ones just don’t like a food when actually they just:

1. Don’t fancy it at that particular moment.

2. Aren’t keen on it in that form but may like it if it is given to them differently.

3. Teething or out of sorts.

Remember it takes about 10 attempts of a food for a toddler to know if they like it or not, so keep trying, keep being creative and keep smiling when that food ends up on the floor or spat out.