At the table! Eating problems in toddlers

In the beginning your child seems to eat everything, but after about 1.5 years something can change. Many children then start with difficult behavior and the words ‘no’ and ‘dirty’ come into play. What are the reasons behind this behavior, how can you deal with it and how do you solve it?

Identity formation

A one and a half year old toddler is discovering the world and that takes a lot of energy, but what many do not know is that toddlers eat proportionately less than babies. Which is emotionally strange, since a baby only sleeps and eats. Moreover, the principle comes into play: I am (almost) two and say no! At this age they become aware that they have a will of their own. They look for the boundaries to develop their own first piece of identity . And by refusing food they probably provoke a reaction and that is of course very interesting.

But of course it’s not really nice if your child doesn’t eat anything and it can make you quite nervous. That is why a large number of parents want their child to eat at least a little instead of nothing. But there is no need to worry, because if your child does not want to eat, this does not immediately result in a vitamin or mineral deficiency. And if children are really hungry, they will eat anyway.

Tips and tricks

There are few who can deal with their child’s ‘resolute’ refusal to eat in a relaxed manner. This gives your son/daughter an important tool of power. Unfortunately, a child cannot be forced to like something and this often results in the opposite, namely an even more stubborn child.

What to do if the plane is not allowed to land in your toddler’s mouth? And there are various tricks that only confirm that vegetables are dirty for the child, namely hiding the vegetables under a little applesauce or promising a tasty dessert. This can cause children to associate healthy vegetables with dirty ones .

Research shows that a vegetable may have to be offered 10-15 times before the child accepts it. So if the child does not accept the vegetable after 1-2 tries, do not give up and continue to happily offer the vegetable. Also keep varying, because your toddler might like it in a few months. In this phase the taste is still developing.

So dinner is a complicated meal, full of new smells and flavors. Toddlers are also tired at the end of the day, so dinner may not really interest them either. It may be worthwhile to eat a hot meal during lunchtime . Do not serve too much food to keep the eating chore as small as possible. Or if they have half a plate empty, compliment them on this achievement. Just think about what your toddler has already eaten during the day, it is often more than you thought.

To expand autonomy and in the ‘bigger’ sense, you could let your toddler eat by himself . This way he/she learns to deal with food in a positive way. Of course, there is a chance of playing with food and making more mess than usual, so if you are tired, skip it.

Also involve your child as much as possible in the meal, this does not mean that your toddler has to help prepare the meal. But more along the lines of: which tablecloth should we use? Give him/her the choice between two food choices, for example rice or pasta. It is not a problem to let your toddler leave the table a little earlier , because half an hour of eating is quite a long time and most toddlers are not fond of it.

No stress, just fun!

In essence, it means that your child is growing up and it is confusing for him/her. So do n’t get carried away by the dirty faces your toddler makes while eating, it’s not meant personally. The most important thing is to set a good example with a varied and healthy meal and to keep fun while eating.
You will probably get annoyed a few times, but keep calm. So if your child really doesn’t want to eat, let it go. Eating should be linked to conviviality , and especially not to struggle.