What do you do when you are worried about your child’s diet? The topic for today is toddlers and eating habits. Click the video below to watch.
Now this is a topic that’s really close to my heart because if you
don’t know, I had a son who had, what I would consider, the world’s
worst eating habits. We didn’t have sleep issues — I nailed those
ones pretty quick — but food was a constant source of agony for
First of all, I thought he didn’t eat enough. He was a small boy,
and I thought, “He’s small because he doesn’t eat enough,” so I was
constantly worried about how much food he was consuming, and we got
into a really bad place, really quickly where I would try to, not
force him to eat, but push food upon him, [chuckle] lets say, and
he pushed back.
My son is now 12, he’s still really strong minded, and it didn’t go
well at all for me to force him or try to push food upon him. His
reaction was always, “No. I will not do that. I will not eat that
[chuckles] .” Then my anxiety would go higher.
This went on for a couple of years before I finally got control of
it, so I want to share with you some tips here today for dealing
with a child who has a very limited diet. First of all, don’t
force. Don’t bribe. Don’t badger. Don’t beg. For lots of children,
anytime this becomes a battle of wills, you’re probably going to
lose. You know your own child.
The more you say it, the more you push it…the worse it gets, so
just back off. Now that doesn’t mean don’t do anything, but it
certainly means take the pressure off.
Tip number two is give choice. Give some, again, controlled choice.
You don’t just walk up to your two-year-old and say, “What would
you like for lunch today?” That’s too much choice.
They’re not equipped to think what they should have for lunch
today, but you could put out three things and let them decide which
one they want to eat, if they want to try some or all of it, or
they only want the grapes, for example.
Let them have some choice around this, and don’t pressure. If you
got grapes and a bit of cheese and some crackers, and they eat 90
percent of the crackers and take two bites of the cheese and don’t
eat the grapes, let it go. This is their decision.
The minute you start forcing the grape [chuckle] plate upon them,
chances are they’re done. They’re done. They’re not going to eat
anything else now, because you’ve put pressure around it.
Another thing you need to do is monitor the timing of snacks and
meals. Toddlers are little people. They don’t have a lot of room in
their tummy, so food gets used up quickly. A good real of thumb is
every two hours, there should be some sort of food option —
whether it’s snack time or meal time — every two hours.
Don’t let your child eat in between. That’s another tip. I’ll give
you an example of my son. Before I figured this out, he would start
asking for things, pretty much first thing he got up in the
He loved crackers. He loved any kind of carbohydrate, so he would
start asking for these things, and I would give him some crackers
here and 20 minutes later, I would give him some bread with peanut
butter and so on…
In my opinion, it felt like he never ate meals, but when I look
back on it, he never ate meals because he grazed all day long on
snacks. Then, when we made some changes, it was, “this is breakfast
time. We will have snack at ten, but there is nothing in between,
so if you’re done your breakfast that’s fine, but there’s nothing
more until snack time.”
Now, obviously he’s not going to understand the concept of time,
but the more that this happened, that he would understand that
breakfast is over, now there’s nothing more until snack time…when
he started asking in between, all I had to do was say, “Nope, it’s
not snack time yet. At snack time you can have more food.”
This is a great way to teach a child to regulate their hunger and
fullness, their sense of hunger and fullness. If you only eat two
bites of your breakfast, you need to think about whether or not
that’s enough to last you until snack time.
As this goes on…this is a long process people. This is not a
quick fix. Nothing around food should be a quick fix. We know that.
Fad diets, quick-fix pills, those don’t work. This is more of a
philosophy around food that you’re trying to teach your child.
I hope that that gives you a few starting points, anyway, for
dealing with your picky toddler. Thanks for watching today. Sleep
Transcription by CastingWords
Are you struggling to get your child to eat healthy foods? If so, you will want to check out The Food Sense Program. Created with the help of a nutritionist, it is a guide to help even the fussiest of eaters trying new healthy foods!