Solving food issues with your toddler in the second year

Eating & Nutrition   |   Age: 1 year 7 months

Solving food issues in the second year
It can be a challenge trying to get a strong-willed toddler to eat a balanced diet - or sometimes even at all. Food issues at this age are fairly common, so if they happen, it's often a pretty isolated incident, and not a sign of more issues to come. In the meantime, there are things you can do to reduce the chance of a mealtime struggle between you and your baby.

Here are some things to consider if you start to notice some mealtime rebellion coming from your baby's end of the table.

It might be a control issue.

Between the ages of one and two, young children start to be able to do more things for themselves, and to enjoy doing things on their own. Being told to do something may feel a little constricting for a toddler who would rather decide for herself whether to eat her green beans or throw them on the floor. It's best if parents can try to avoid making their toddler feel powerless, or pressured.

your baby might need to be more involved in mealtime.

Perhaps your toddler's pickiness comes from a place of detachment from the meal-prep process. It's possible that if your baby can participate a little bit more, she will feel more inclined to eat.

The food you're serving might take some getting used to.

Toddlers are notorious for their resistance to change. Some food power struggles come from a place of the toddler needing some time to adjust to new types of food.

your baby just might not be that hungry!

Toddlers are pretty good about regulating their own appetites. They aren't always hungry at every meal of the day. Many parents find that their toddler is hungry at breakfast and lunch, but totally disinterested in food come dinnertime.

Final thoughts: things not to do

There are a few different reasons why mealtime power struggles occur, and each has its own solution. On the opposite end of this spectrum, however, there are some strategies that don't tend to work as well with reluctant-eater toddlers. First, don't become your toddler's short-order cook. As the parent, you're allowed to decide what does and doesn't put on the table. Second, don't force or bribe your baby to eat certain foods. In the long run, this doesn't teach your baby how to eat according to her internal hunger cues.

Finally, a little coddling now and then isn't going to hurt, but by this age, most toddlers are ready to feed themselves most of the time, and they'll only get better and more comfortable self-feeding them more often they have the chance to practice, even if they're not that excited about the chance to take the reins and feed themselves. If their toddler is ready to feed themselves, it's time to encourage (and celebrate!) these newly-acquired skills.


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