Why are some children so fussy about food? Well, there are a number of reasons your child may turn up their nose at mealtimes, but it’s important to remember that picky eating is normal in young children.
This lovely article by NBC News lays out some of the key research and provides some suggestions on how best to approach fussy eating habits. Don't have the time to read the article? Here's the abridged version:
Why all the fuss?
Most of the time, it's not about the last two bites of green beans. A more likely option is that your child is trying to maintain control of the situation, and when a child rejects a certain food and we put pressure on them to eat that food, it becomes a negative experience.
Tips for defusing the power struggle:
1. Set realistic expectations
More often, if you’re giving a child a food for the first time, they’re probably going to be a little bit unsure at first.
2. Change up the menu
Lots of parents fall into the “peas is the only vegetable my child eats” trap — and then that parents serves peas every night.
3. Don't make separate meals
Catering to children's’ picky preferences drives the pickiness and never gives them a reason to try new foods.
4. Give children options you want them to eat
Don't stop providing healthy options regardless of the response. Eventually after seeing everyone else eat it, they’ll try it, maybe they’ll like it, and eventually it won’t be a problem
5. Separate behaviour issues from picky eating
If a child is screaming or throwing a tantrum at the dinner table, that’s a behaviour issue, not a picky eating issue. Try and separate the two and deal with them appropriately.
6. Involve kids in meal prep
Involving kids in meal prep makes them active participants and gives them a sense of control, and children like control, remember!
7. Don’t ban sweets, help kids manage when and how they eat them
You don't need to ban sweets, but you do need to provide some control. Give children guidelines about what that means — one dessert per day, three meals a day, one afterschool snack, or whatever the eating schedule is
8. Relax, enjoy it and make mealtimes the positive experience they should be
Not every meal is going to turn out perfect — and even the healthiest eater is going to have a day of eating that’s not as balanced as it could be
Children spend a significant amount of their early years in the family home making it an important space to promote early development. There are hundreds of ways you can adapt your home and routine to provide better learning opportunities for all ages. Here are our top 5 for toddlers.
1. Label everything
Despite the fact that your little one can't read yet, education aptitudes begin growing at an early stage. The first three years are of high importance when it comes to the basic building blocks of reading and writing. Labeling household items, such as the toy bin or desk introduces your child to letters and helps them understand that words have actual meaning. Include a picture of the item along with the word to give more context.
2. Set Up a Weather Window
Get a set of sticky velcro dots and stick one to the inside of a visible window. Take a piece of blank white card and have your child draw a picture of the day's weather by using any art medium (crayons, markers, watercolours). Add a word below the drawing that describes the weather (cold, snowy, sunny). Stick another piece of velcro to the back of the drawing and help your child stick it to the window. Repeat every day until you have a set of weather drawings for every condition and update each day.
3. Introduce Organisation
Now that everything is labeled (see point 1) you can better promote tidying by keeping toys, clothes, dishes, and household items in specific places. As you put things in their labeled bins and drawers, turn the process into a guessing game. Ask your child where certain items belong and encourage them to find the right place themselves. As your child becomes more familiar with the process, place items in the wrong locations and challenge your toddler to find your mistakes. These tasks give you a way to begin teaching your young children about responsibilities, helping others, and being part of a family.
4. Make sensory bags
Throw together sensory bags or bottles that let your little one explore with all their senses. Cut up scrap fabric and make a texture-rich feely bag, use a few different scents or add jingle bells to make a “listening bag.” Adding rice or pasta to a bottle makes a fantastic shaker too!
The more words your child hears, the richer their vocabulary will become. Not only are they learning new things to say, but also starting to understand how communication works. You talk, they listen. They talk, you listen. Practice this over and over again every day. There’s no need to make special “talk time.” Instead, keep the conversation up throughout the day.
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We've just sent out links to our annual Parent Questionnaire, giving families at Flying Colours the chance to have their say. Parent feedback provides invaluable insight on the care we provide, and helps shape our practice for the next year.
Links have been emailed to all current families at Flying Colours, but if you haven't seen one (and think you should have), then check in at the nursery to find out how to get access.
We can't wait to hear some of your comments and start implementing new changes based on your feedback!