How to prevent toddler tantrums and fussy eating with Charlotte Stirling-Reed!
How to prevent toddler tantrums and fussy eating!
1. Avoid over-tired dinner times. Tiredness can hugely effect behaviours and appetite. Dinner is often a time where EVERYONE is a bit tired and fed up. For toddlers it’s nearing bedtime and a time when really they need to “wind down” at home. An overtired baby likely won’t have the energy (and even the ability, as eating is a tough skill for some kids) or will to eat.
2. Consider they might really not be hungry. Sometimes little ones may simply have had enough to eat in the day – with meals, snacks and milk intakes spread out, you might find that your toddler just isn’t really hungry for dinner time. Sometimes it’s about juggling the routine around and finding out what works for you.
3. Find out when they last ate. It’s also often hard to tell when they last ate at nursery or school, so finding out that can be helpful. If they had a substantial snack or “tea” just before you’re sitting them down to eat a large meal, they may not be able to communicate with you that they simply aren’t hungry and it may come out in tears, food refusal or a tantrum.
4. Eat together. Eat together as much as you can – children will learn so much from watching you eat and have some extra “side” plates of shared salad or veggies for them to help themselves to.
5. Avoid “pressure”. This one really is key! Pressure to eat up rarely works and is more likely to have the opposite effect in the long run. Keep mealtimes light – avoid turning them into battle grounds as much as you can. Keeping them light and enjoyable means your toddler will more likely WANT to be part of them.
6. Focus on food. Differentiate meals from play time by clearing away play activities and having mealtimes distraction free, as much as possible. Avoid toys and TVs at mealtimes – it’s a hard habit to break once it’s started often.
7. Let them leave the table. Getting down from the table mid-meal is very normal. Especially with experimental toddlers or when toddlers are reaching milestones (or have a new toy!!). However, it’s important not to allow young children to wander around whilst eating, so try to encourage them to stay at the table IF they want to eat. Let them get down however, if they really want to – forcing them to stay at the table is unlikely to be helpful in the long run. Eating at the table with them can help them to stay for longer periods as can offering a variety on their plates and ensuring that they are fairly hungry for the meal in the first place.
8. Assess appetite over the week. Lots of people say that their little ones have an insatiable appetite at mealtimes and this can be very normal. In the toddler years they are growing at a very fast pace and moving about a lot and so need lots of energy. They are also very good at regulating their own appetites and sometimes they will eat lots, whilst on another day they may barely touch the food – it’s good to look at what they are eating over a week, rather than focusing on just one or two meals. Allow them to eat to appetite (within reason e.g. if you’ve run out, you’ve run out), but it’s fine for toddlers to have seconds (or thirds) if they are wanting them.