Adding varietyYour toddler is growing and developing every day, and a wide variety of foods will help to provide all the nutrients they need for the incredible changes that are happening, inside and out. Getting them used to a varied diet is also important for setting up healthy habits for life – encouraging them to love good food and try new tastes from a young age.
Of course, toddlers don’t always want to eat!A big part of their development involves testing boundaries, and that can sometimes lead to fussy phases at the dinner table. For most toddlers, it’s a way of showing that they’re becoming their own little person and that they have the power to say no. While this can be a bit of a worry, it’s usually just a phase and will pass soon enough. The good news is that toddlers have a natural instinct for knowing how much they need to eat. It can be reassuring to look at how much they’ve eaten over a whole week, instead of just at one fussy mealtime or day. Remember, most toddlers go through this phase, so you’re definitely not alone!
Here are some tips to help you encourage your toddler to eat a wide variety of foods, even through fussy phases.
Our top variety tips
• Offer a rainbow of colours – toddlers love bright, fun colours and if you can catch their interest in food before they’ve tasted it, that’s a great start. Making smiley faces, animal shapes and trees or flowers out of their food can also keep them fascinated and hungry for more.
• Be a healthy example – have you noticed how much your toddler learns by copying? One of their favourite people to copy is you, so by eating a wide variety of foods yourself, they’ll be more likely to finish their plate too. Telling them how yummy your food is, even if it’s not your favourite, will also encourage them to try more.
• Stay positive – toddlers love attention, good or bad. Praising them when they’ve eaten well will spur them on to do it again. Staying calm and accepting the times when they don’t want to eat everything (or anything!) makes for a happier mealtime, and hopefully a more willing toddler when the next snack or meal comes around.
• Don’t give up on greens, or anything else! It can take more than 10 tries before a toddler decides to like a food. So if they refuse something a few times, don’t cross it off the weekly shopping list forever. Leave it for a few days and try again, you might be surprised by an empty plate after dinner.