Weaning is tough - both on the parents and the toddler. It’s not often that we think of it from the toddler’s point of view. After only knowing milk, they’re open to this whole new world of different textures, flavours and colours. All this is a lot for your little one to take on.
So mother to mother, my first words of wisdom are to be patient.
Fussy eating is mostly a normal part in a toddler’s journey to adulthood. Nearly every parent will have stories about their toddler’s fussy eating. It’s all part of a toddler developing their independence, whilst undergoing so many changes and development milestones.
Fussy eating is mostly a normal part in a toddler’s journey to adulthood.
Fussy eaters are usually defined as those who consume a minimal variety of foods, often through rejection of lots of foods that are familiar and unfamiliar to them [Dovey et al, 2008]. More often than not the fussy eating stems from behavioural roots more than anything more serious.
There’s no set order to introduce foods to your little one. It’s advised to try a new food every 2-3 days. One day they might like it, the next they might not. You may feel like your toddler is being picky, but really it’s them just coming to grips with this whole new world of food.
Did you know it can take 15-20 tries with some foods to win your toddler over? Perseverance is key.
For the first month of weaning, I’d recommend freezing lots of different pureed vegetables in something like a mini muffin tin. This means you can pop out different ones at meal times for your toddler to explore. It keeps the variety high, preparation time to a minimum and reduces food waste.
In time your little one can move onto the delicious My Veggie Bubba products. Each toddler has its own journey through weaning, so will be ready for these more complex flavours and textures at different points.
The point when fussy eating becomes a cause for concern is when your toddler isn’t the normal growth and development of children at that age. It’s best to check with your healthcare provider if you have concerns around this.
A lot of the time though your toddler is getting enough nutrients. They will instinctively know when they’re hungry and need more food. Some days they’ll eat minimally, other days they’ll make up for this. Between 1-5 years old children’s eating habits are highly erratic (Leung & Robson, 1994).
Some top tips for fussy eaters are:
- Avoid drinks at meal times, especially milk and juice. This can fill a toddler up very quickly; so they don’t feel hungry.
- Watch their intake of dense foods. This can similarly fill them up.
- Trial reducing snacking between meals. If your toddler isn’t eating well at meals, it can be tempting to encourage snacking between meals. But, this can be counter productive as then they won’t be hungry at meal times.
- Model good behaviour at meal times. Toddlers copy signals from others around them.
Fussy eating is a natural part of your little one’s journey. If they don’t like it the first time, try again, and again. They’ll get there in their own time.
- Dovey TM, Staples PA, Gibson EL, Halford JC. Food neophobia and ‘picky/fussy’ eating in children: A review. Appetite 2008;50(2–3):181–93
- Leung AK, Robson WL The toddler who does not eat. Am Fam Physician 1994;49(8):1789–800.