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Fussy Eating

Q: Why is my toddler fussy?

First off - this isn't your fault! Toddlers are meant to start rejecting foods and these fussy behaviours are a sign that their development us right on track! For a detailed answer of why this happens head here to ease some stress. Toddler Mealtimes is all about helping you navigate through this tricky time.

Q: What do I do if my toddler is refusing to eat the food I give them?

I've been through the exact same experiences so I know it can be really frustrating! Firstly, make sure you're nailing your roles during meal times - more about that here.  Next, the way you respond is really important to helping you child out of this phase and you can read more about it here. Once you know what to say when your child brings out the 'yucky' quote, checkout this video to learn about some simple strategies you can use to help increase their confidence in trying new foods! 

Q: How can I get my toddler to eat more veggies?

Toddlers are notoriously fussy eaters and it is completely normal for most of them to go off vegetables during this time. You can read about why this happens here. I know it can be really frustrating and seem wasteful to continue to offer them veggies when they don't get eaten - but it's very important to persevere! I've got a list of my favourite quick and easy ways to include veggies at meal and snack times to help save you time and make this phase (yes - it's just a phase, hang in there!) easier for you. 

Q: How do I get my child to stop throwing their food?

This is a pretty normal thing for toddlers to do but it's not a behaviour we want them to continue as they grow older. It can also be really frustrating for you! I talk through some common reasons why toddlers throw food and what you can do and say to help curb this messy habit here. 

Q: What do I do if my toddler will only eat fruit?

I know this can be really frustrating and lots of parents are worried about nutrient intake! This is actually really normal for toddlers though because fruit is sweet and easy to eat. I talk through what your role is in this situation here and how you can get through this fussy phase!

Q: How can I build my toddlers confidence to try new foods?

First things first - make sure you and your toddler are sticking to your mealtime roles. If you're not sure what they are, head here to watch the videos. Eating is really complex and kids need to overcome all sorts of sensory experiences before they can learn to enjoy a food. I go through the 6 big steps to getting there here.

Q: How can I use safe foods to help my toddler eat more foods?

We all want the best for our kids and making sure they're eating enough variety from all the food groups is important. This article will explain what safe foods are. I'll also help you create two simple lists which will assist to increase how many foods your toddlers will eat in their diet. Once you've done that, you can head here to learn about how to use safe foods so you don't need to be cooking multiple different meals at dinner time! Finally, don't forget this post too where I'll give you a four step process on how to use your toddlers current safe foods to get them comfortable with new foods (this will = more safe foods in the long run and less fussiness - woohoo!)

Q: No seriously - my toddler is REALLY fussy?

If you're REALLLY struggling with your little one, I suggest heading to this video where I discuss signs of whether your toddler is just going through a fussy eating phase or if it might be a bigger problem. Don't worry - I go through what you can do, who you can go to for help and am here to support you (you are not alone!). You can also try exposing your child to new food through play, away from the dinner table. Here's how to do it and why it can be helpful. 

Transitioning Into Toddler Foods

Q: When should I start weaning my toddler off formula?

Around 12 months we can start transitioning from formula feeds to regular milk (whether that be cows, soy, oat or pea protein milk!). I know this can be a big transition not only for bubs but for you so make sure to go at a pace you are comfortable with. To help ease the nerves, head here to learn more about when to stop formula, how much milk toddlers really need and how to transition them successfully from formula to regular milk! I also discuss in more detail when to offer milk, why it's important to get rid of baby bottles after 12 months and provide you with some daily examples of what a day of milk and other dairy foods might look like once you are off the formula. There's also info about how much milk your toddler actually needs here and what to do if they don't drink milk.

Q: When can I introduce more challenging textures to my toddler?

These can be some stressful thoughts for parents but it definitely doesn't have to be. Check out this post here for more information where I answer these questions and more for you! 

Q: Should I be referring to foods as 'good' and 'bad' to my toddler?

In short, we NEVER want to be labelling foods as either good or bad. I discuss why this is the case in this article here. I also talk about what you can say instead and how you can talk about foods differently as your little one grows older.

How Much And How Often

Q: Is my toddler eating too much?

Here's a discussion of how much toddler's should eat. As a general rule, toddlers can't really eat too much. I discuss why in this post. I also discuss what you should do if you child is a big eater during meal times. It's really important you and your child stick to your roles during meal times to help them develop a healthy relationship with food. Wondering what those might be? Head here for my philosophy behind this.

Q: How do I know if my toddler is full?

This can be a tricky one and it is normal to feel this way. I like to refer to the concept of using your toddler's tummy voice to help guide you. I discuss what this is and how you can use it to know if your toddler is full in this video - check it out. The best part about using this method is it takes the stress off you and your toddler too! Sometimes we worry we can't trust how much they eat and I discuss that here

Q: Should I give my toddler a pre-bedtime snack?

I know it feels like you might be sending your toddler to bed hungry if they didn't eat much of their dinner but this is hardly ever true. Whether you decide to offer a pre-bedtime snack is largely dependent on the dynamics in your family and whether it suits you. I talk through when it's a good idea to give your toddler a pre-bed snack and tips on how to go about this in this post. Read more about trusting your toddlers tummy voice to help you know if they've had enough to eat here to help ease your stress.

Q: Is my toddler getting enough iron?

It is common for toddlers to go through fussy periods. During these times, toddlers often refuse foods high in iron like meat and legumes as they can be tricky to eat. Check out this video and post on iron foods and requirements to see what other food sources of iron your toddler might be eating. Next up look at this one all about low iron, including why meat refusal is common, when you might start to worry and what will happen at the GP to diagnose and treat low iron. If your doctor recommends a supplement, there is also this post about how to give iron supplements and other medications to toddlers.

Q: How much salt can my toddler have?

It can be really difficult to measure how much salt is in food since its small and found in so many different foods! Toddlers can handle more than babies since their kidneys have matured and are better at processing the salt. However, as a nation we already consume way too much salt so limiting this in our kids is important. I discuss the nutrient guidelines for how much salt should be included in your toddlers diet, what foods are particularly salty (some may surprise you!) and how to use the nutrition information panel to find out which supermarket goods are saltier than others. Head here for all the answers and other general tips to reducing salt in the diet.

 

Types Of Food

Q: How do I know if my toddler is getting enough variety in their diet?

It's important for our kids to eat a range of different foods from the five main food groups. For a breakdown of how many serves an average toddler requires from each of these food groups and what this looks like per day head here. There's also individual guides for each of the food groups here: protein , fruit , vegetables , grains and dairy . For those of you whose little one might only be eating fruit (or another type of food) off their plate and need a bit more help head to this video where I discuss in more detail why this can be normal and what your role is in these situations!

Q: How do I choose…

I get asked a lot about what how to choose the best brands of commercial foods when shopping. Don't worry - it can be confusing but I've got you covered! Learn how to best choose specific types of foods by reading the following articles on: crackers , bread , wraps , yoghurt , pasta , dairy-free milk and dairy-free yoghurt (more coming soon!). You can also search the archives for my weekly Chewsday Reviews if you want more information about a particular product. If you cant find what you're looking for, feel free to ask a question on Toddler Mealtimes Subscribers group, or add your product request to the Chewsday Reviews pinned post . For a sneak peak at what I put into my trolley at the supermarket one week checkout this post here.

Q: Should I give my toddler junk food?

I've got great news - there is much you can do to help prevent or manage obsessions with junk foods. In my post here you can learn all about how to help normalise these foods. I also give you some strategies to help you on a daily basis which aim to take your toddlers focus away from these foods. I have also discussed how much junk food toddlers should eat and my top 4 tips to help your child build a good relationship with these types of foods. Don't forget to checkout my other post which discusses how to properly explain 'good' and 'bad' foods in a way that won't be damaging to our children in the future!

Q: Help - I'm running out of ideas of what to make for my toddler!

As a toddler mealtime member, you have access to a bunch of recipes that are toddler friendly and easy to make too! Head here to browse through some of my favourites from roast dinner fritters to chocolate and zucchini muffins. You can also use our snack photo gallery for inspiration. 

Mealtime Environment

Q: What if my toddler refuses to sit in the highchair?

First of all - don't stress or feel bad. This is SUPER COMMON for toddlers. This phase usually happens more than once in toddlerhood unfortunately, but I can help. Head here to see a video of how I handled my own during a highchair refusal moment. I also explain many cues to look out for to ensure the highest chance that your toddler will sit happily in their chair during meal times.

Q: Should my child be watching a screen while eating?

Head over to this video where I explain why it might be a problem and what you can do for your child to avoid screens during meal times. I also walk through what you can say and do for your toddler during the transition - trust the process!

Q: Should I praise my toddler during meal times?

While I'm all for praising our kids when they do a good job with listening, getting out of the bath or putting on their shoes, I DON'T recommend doing this when it comes to them eating. I explain why this is here . For more about what you can say instead checkout the question below!

Q: How should I talk to my toddler during meal times?

How we speak to our children during mealtimes can inadvertently lead to fussy eating! While we have the best intentions, sometimes what we say can impact them in a negative way. Luckily, small changes to your vocabulary can have a positive influence on your child's behaviour and I help you sort through this in this post here 

Q: Should I encourage family mealtimes with my toddler?

This is one of the things I love most and I talk all about why family meals are important and how to do it here. Now that your little ones grown up a bit, some good dinner conversation is essential! What we talk about during meals is important too and I have some tips on what you can discuss at meal times here. It might be a bit difficult to begin with though, so I go through how you can use your child's safe foods here to ensure you don't need to cook twice at every meal time!

Q: How can I manage my toddlers eating at special events?

I know all of these events can throw your normal routine out of whack and this may be stressful! Remember - all of these are learning experiences for both you and your child (not to mention really fun). I discuss tips and strategies for how to decide how much easter chocolate your toddler can have here  and how to plan for parties both at home and while you're actually there here. For those of you who might be going away on holiday soon, I give a detailed account on what I did on mine here 

Q: Should I let my dog be around for mealtimes?

Find out the answers to this from Dr Lisa Smart a Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care at Murdoch. She discusses here what is best not only for your bub but also how you can protect your dog at the same time. 

Q: How can I get the grandparents / babysitter / playdate parent on board with how I am trying to feed my toddler?

Although they all have the best intentions, sometimes other people you put in the care of your toddler do things differently. Maybe you've already made a lot of progress and you're worried it might get undone. For the most part, what you do most of the time is the most important thing for your child. However, I have a few downloadable resources you can use to help communicate with family members or other carers to be more on board with what we do here

Health

Q: How can I help my constipated toddler?

Some kids will poo once a week, some multiple times a day. What is 'normal' for your child is something you will know best. With your knowledge of this, head to this post here where I discuss how to identify if your child is experiencing constipation, what food and drink you can offer during this time and when stool softeners may be appropriate to use. There's also a great talk by a paediatric GP here 

Q: What is the best way to take care of my toddlers teeth?

Toddlers need strong and healthy teeth if they're to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Lucky for us, we've got Samantha Byrne, a senior lecturer in Oral Biology at the Melbourne Dental School to help us answer these toothy questions and more! Checkout this video here  and another one here

Q: Does food play a role in my toddlers eczema?

I am not on expert on all things toddler, but the great thing about my program is the knowledgeable monthly guests I invite in! Head over to this video where Jemma Weidinger (Eczema Nurse Practitioner) and Dr Meera T (Paediatric Immunologist) answer all these questions about eczema and food allergy for you.

Q: What do I do if my child has an ear infection?

The pain associated with ear infections can impact your toddlers appetite and contribute to fussy eating. It's important we know how to deal with these and prevent them so Dr Andrew Leech guides us through this in this helpful video