As children grow and develop the world around them gets more interesting than the gourmet clown face salad in front of them. They start exploring and acquire loads of info and knowledge especially between the ages of 1 and 3 years. This is the ideal time to help children form and mould their attitude towards food. It is during this important and sometimes challenging time where your child’s attitude towards food can either be made or broken.

Not only do we have to teach our children to have a healthy and positive attitude towards food, we also have to try to give their little growing and developing bodies all the nutrients it needs. But what if your child becomes fussy or doesn’t want to eat?

Here are a few reasons why your toddler may refuse food:

– He/she is sick, tired, or grumpy (in a bad mood)

– If being scolded at

– Force-fed when he/she had enough to eat

– Too full from drinking

– Feeling upset / lonely / anxious (the reason why some children don’t eat well away from home)

– Constipated

– Anaemic (low iron levels)

– Exerting his/her independence or looking for attention

Now, BE CALM and turn fussy eating into feasting:

– Offer your toddler a variety of foods and tastes. A child has to be exposed about 11 times to one food before they develop a taste for it.

– Offer 2-3 healthy snacks in-between meal times, such as fruit, vegetable sticks with hummus, cheese and crackers, yoghurt, etc.

– Offer iron-rich food throughout the day such as red meat and poultry, eggs, dried fruit, fortified breakfast cereals and milks, as well as dark green leafy vegetables.

– Praise you toddler when he/she finishes a meal or try new foods.

– Let your toddler feed him/her self. This is probably going to be a messy business, but it’s the best way for them to explore texture and different tastes together.

– Include them in food preparation and shopping.

– Eat mealtimes together and make it a fun family occasion. Use different colour plates/plates with compartments, eat outside or have a picnic.

– Offer 6-8 drinks during the day of 120ml each (water is the best). Also include 300ml milk per day.

If your toddler is constantly tired, gets sick easily, and doesn’t perform well with their development goals, then please take him/her for a nutrition assessment at a doctor, nurse, or dietician.

Contributor: Melissa Ludick, FEMINA HEALTH Dietician.


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