If you have little ones in your house, you know how frustrating can it can be when you have a toddler who is a picky eater. It’s just exhausting trying to get them to eat some days.
But have you ever thought how strange a lot of food may seem to our kids, who are experiencing many things for the first time? Today, I’m welcoming Natasha Daniels, a child therapist and author of the book How to Parent an Anxious Toddler (affiliate link), to share why your toddler is a picky eater — directly from a toddler’s perspective.
Why Your Toddler is a Picky Eater
I know my eating habits might be a mystery to some of you parent-folk out there and I am here to break it down for you. We toddlers have sensitive little mouths. We can feel bumps that maybe your tongue ignores and new flavors explode in our mouth – and that is not always a good thing.
Let’s talk about TEXTURE!
My little mouth is just getting used to bumps, lumps and surprises in my food. If I am being picky, you might want to stop giving me a scary concoction of textures in my food. Give me food that doesn’t offer any surprises when I bite into it. Maybe as I become a better eater you can start by giving me simple mixed textures. Me and my mouth would greatly appreciate it!
Okay, food network watcher – let’s talk about TASTE!
I know you are excited to try all sorts of yummy extravagant dishes and you swore you would raise a child who would be wonderfully experimental with their food – But…. My mouth is just getting used to the gross tastes of avocado and broccoli. My mouth is newer than yours and every new food explodes in my mouth, overloading me with new tastes and smells. If I am being picky with you, you might want to start off very – very- simple. I prefer bland food at first. If I like a flavor – add it to your mental “go to” foods for me, but before that save it for the grown-ups!
Be careful how my plate LOOKS.
Food is currently a scary venture. Like going into a dark cave and not knowing what you are going to find. When I see a plate with all my food and flavors touching, I may not want to eat at all. What if I take a bite of my chicken and it has some of that weird casserole on it. Yuck! I know you always put a new food on my plate for me to try– and that is fine, but watch it lady! Don’t put it near my safe food!!
Food BATTLES are not my friend and they shouldn’t be yours either!!
I am not trying to be stubborn. I am not trying to be difficult. I don’t plot and plan late at night how to make your life miserable – although I know you may think I do at times. I am just trying to master this thing you call eating. Give me time. Be patient. If I see that you are getting angry with me or worse forcing me to eat something my mouth isn’t ready to handle – I promise the problem will get worse.
You can HELP me!
I know I am just a toddler and I need your help through these problems. I know I do need you to push me a little bit through this eating thing. Take it one step at a time. Don’t give me a casserole of mixed textures and four zillion flavors when I can barely handle yogurt with some fruit lumps. Introduce textures slowly. Don’t mix too many flavors until I am ready. Tell me what I am eating. Sometimes it is a complete mystery to me. I know you care and I know you are doing your best and for that – I love you! It is just this eating thing can get confusing and maybe with a little toddler help we can work through this together!!
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Note: If you suspect your toddler has a serious food aversion, please talk to your pediatrician. There are professionals who help kids who cannot eat due to sensory issues and other challenges.
For food ideas for toddlers, consider the following affiliate links:
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About Natasha: Natasha Daniels is a child therapist and toddler mental health specialist. She obtained her post-graduate training at The Harris Institute for Infant Mental Health, but her three children have taught her the most valuable lessons! Natasha splits her time between her private practice and her writing. You can read more from Natasha on her site Anxious Toddlers.