We need to start by saying that it is perfectly normal for Toddlers & Preschoolers to be picky eaters. Now that we have that out of the way, being a Director running an early childhood centre aka child care I conduct a lot of parent tours of our facility. One in 3 parents will always let me know that they are worried since their child is a picky eater and does not eat well. Parents draw a conclusion that because their child is a picky eater they don’t eat well. We need to observe what your child is eating during the day and not just at meal time. Is your child active and energetic?
Any easy way to figure out is that they need one tablespoon per year of things that are easy to measure and 1/4th or 1/3rd (depending on the child’s age) of adult portions of things that are difficult to measure like milk. The exact amount of food depends on each individual child & how much activity they get, how old they are or the time between meals. Your child needs 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks per day.
Usually picky eating is a way for children to want control over what they do. It is also a result of trying most foods for the first time. There are different textures and tastes that their palette is getting used to. Some important rules that parents can follow when developing their children’s food habits are:
- Allow your child to stop eating when they are full
- Let your child make a decision on how much they would like to eat
- Do not offer alternate unhealthy foods vs healthy items (chips vs carrots)
- Offer your child a variety of foods in a meal so that they choose what they would like to eat but do not offer them in sequence. Offer all the varieties at once.
- Encourage your child to at least try everything and then decide whether they want to eat it or not
- Do not use food as a reward