Toddlerhood is a crucial stage of a child’s growth. It is a time of significant cognitive, emotional and social development. The toddler age falls between 1 to 3 years, and at this stage, your child is learning to grasp independence and function on great impulse.
It is common to find your toddler a picky eater. When you bring a spoon of food close to your toddler’s mouth, receiving that side-eye can be worrisome.
While there are toddlers who do not have an issue managing their appetites, there are some who require extra effort. Most picky eating stages usually start from 1-2 years and last until 3-5 years, but while some may likely adjust to eating, some do not.
However, in whatever choice of meals your baby picks, it is paramount to contain the proper nutrients suitable for their bowel movement.
Likely reasons your toddler is a picky eater;
- Some toddlers have a natural aversion to intensely flavoured food. They do not have a sweet tooth as expected of their age but prefer to eat bland foods.
- Although one may think that, as children, they have total reliance on what they are fed, children have sharp perceptions and a mind of theirs. There are situations where a child who used to be fed pap suddenly rejects it. Greater chances are that such a child may have grown weary of it over time.
While some get bored over repeating an intake of a particular dish, others do not have a problem with it and prefer to eat it recurrently.
- Late introduction of meals at weaning. When a child grows into a meal not introduced to him earlier, they mightn’t embrace it readily.
Probable solutions for a picky eater
You may want to try out these methods if your toddler is a picky eater:
- Introduce them to a new meal gradually. By doing so, they make adjustments to their taste buds.
- Try to make eating time a fun time. Make funny faces, sing or save the food from being boring by making food arts out of them.
- Eat alongside them while making an enthusiastic impression of it. This will help make them feel you’re enjoying the meal too.
- Give a range of options, and combine their disliked meals with the most liked.
5 Nigerian foods for your picky eater
Typical of a growing child, they need foods rich in nutrients. These foods ensure that their immune system is strengthened enough to fight off diseases. It equally helps in physical and mental development.
Below is the list of foods that contains just the right amount of nutrients for your picky eaters:
- Pap: It is common to find this in the list of every toddler. This is because it is light and easy to swallow. Pap, Ogi or Akamu, is made from plain corn or a mixture of corn and millet.
It is rich in carbohydrates, iron, calcium, and other essential nutrients for a child’s growth. Pap is prepared by dissolving in cold water and running hot water through it till it thickens. You can afterward sweeten as preferred while still keeping the sugar level moderate.
- Oats: This would make a wonderful meal for your toddler; despite its delicious taste, oats have many health benefits. They are easy to cook and presented as either sweetened or plain.
It leaves room for experimentation, which would benefit your picky toddler. You can try to enrich its nourishment by adding fruits like banana purée and avocado pears while adding milk and beating them together. This can serve as a sweetener to replace refined sugar.
- Sweet potatoes: Given their natural sweet taste, most toddlers would prefer it. Sweet potatoes contain vitamins, beta carotene, manganese, potassium, and dietary fiber that aids digestion. You can either prepare it as porridge or plain with sauce.
- Bread: Try introducing them to bread, and while doing so, ensure to pair it with tea, jam, eggs, or butter. Bread contains carbohydrates which are vital to their development. It contains other nutrients like protein, fats, iron and calcium.
- Beans: Most children do not enjoy beans, and it is best introduced to them at a tender age, except if it has an allergic effect on them. Aside from being packed with nutrients vital for growth, beans is an easy-to-eat meal as they can be puréed and paired with various other foods.
The above Nigerian meals are accessible, and if your toddler is not introduced to them yet, you can gradually do that while mixing them with the already familiar ones. Being a picky eater is not a medical condition. Toddlers mostly have a reduced appetite compared to their baby stage. If you find out your child makes a selection of meals, you do not need to fret or worry so much over it.
Whatever the case, do not force your toddler to eat. Find out the kind of picky eater your baby is and devise a means to do it. However, if your baby becomes undernourished, unusually underweight or eats so tiny that it harms their health, it is time to throw your concerns to a pediatrician.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Why is my toddler refusing food?
Toddlers lose their appetite as they grow and their taste buds develop. It's normal if they have an aversion to certain meals.
- How can I make my picky toddler eat?
Start by feeding them what they like to eat most. Ensure to incorporate healthy ingredients so they aren't losing any nutrients.
- Can I force my toddler to eat?
Forcing your toddler to eat would make them more picky with food. Take it slow with them till they build up tolerance.