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Community Questions - Raising Healthy Eaters?

"My toddler used to eat everything and anything and recently has started to be really picky with what he will and won't eat. How can I encourage him to eat healthy meals again? Have any of you experienced this too?"

We have experienced this with our toddlers - it's common for little ones to start wanting to make their own decisions about what food they want to eat and it could also a part of them trying to push boundaries and see where they can get to!

Our first tip is to relax as much as possible - no counting bites of foods, no bribing your toddler to eat the food you have made, just simply make the food and put it in front of your little one. The less attention you put on them eating the food, the more likely they are going to - from our experience anyway!

- Try to offer smaller portions as larger portions may overwhelm your little one

- Try to avoid offering your toddler a snack if their meal wasn't eaten - wait until the next mealtime to offer food again. Dinnertime can be particularly tricky as you don't want to put your toddler to bed hungry if they haven't eaten their dinner, but they may not actually be hungry, you could try offering them a piece of fruit 30-45 mins before bed and see if they want it or not. From our experience, we do not recommend making 2/3 different dinner options if they keep refusing the meal you put in front of them, it's either Option 1 or nothing - we tried this and ended up making 4 different dinner options which none ended up getting eaten as our son wasn't even hungry just thought it was a game!

-Try to add at least one food you know your toddler loves to their plate each meal time, this can help with familiarity and consistency with knowing that each meal has something you know your little one enjoys!

Modelling behaviour - this is so important. Your toddler is always watching you and picking up on your behaviours and habits. Modelling healthy eating habits is important to get your toddler back eating their healthy meals.

- If you can, sitting down as a family for mealtimes can really help encourage your toddler to eat their meal

- Try to avoid watching TV whilst eating with your toddler, this can act as a distraction and make them not want to eat their meal as they are out of tune with their hunger cues.

Hope that helps!

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