Lize Van Der Merwe, Registered Dietician
Consider these strategies to avoid mealtime battles with a picky eater.
Many toddlers go through a “neophobic phase” at around 18-months of age. This phase is characterised by refusing new foods, “fussy” eating behaviour, difficult meal times and can be very anxiety-provoking for mum and child. The cause of this behaviour is thought to be a survival mechanism to prevent mobile toddlers from poisoning themselves which sometimes results in being a picky eater.
Follow these tips to ensure that your toddler gets enough nutrition to grow and develop.
Offer a wide variety of food before 18 months
Infants will readily accept new foods before 18-months of age. Starting solids at the appropriate time and increasing textures, quantity and variety according to your child’s ability and capacity, will ensure that a wide variety of food is part of their daily intake by the time they reach the neophobic phase. Ask your Dietitian for guidance on when to start giving solid foods and how to progress.
Adjust milk intake as your child grows
As your child grows from infancy to toddlerhood, their milk needs decrease as food provides more of their nutritional intake. Many toddlers keep on drinking large volumes of milk, affecting their appetite for food. Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese is a valuable source of protein, calories and calcium and three age-appropriate portions are recommended for children.
Changing up the time of feeds and meals
Stop night feeds at 12 months of age. This will allow for normal hunger when your child wakes up. Avoid the morning “wake-up” breastfeed or bottle and start with a healthy breakfast. Provide milk feeds after meals and offer meals and snacks when your child is hungry (but not overly hungry aka hangry).
Schedule a paediatric consultation with Lize Van Der Merwe with Ingress Healthcare on 064 940 5110.