Feeding Toddlers: 8 Common Mistakes Parents Make
Mistake #1: Force Feeding
Instead: Don’t make a big fuss when the child refuses a food. The less of an issue you make of it now, the less of a fuss you will get the next time. Wait a little bit, and try again with a happy, positive attitude.
Mistake #2: Being a Short-Order Cook
Instead: Plan meals with at least one item you know the child enjoys. Kids are more likely to partake in the meal if they helped plan or prepare it. For example, if your child loves mac and cheese, but dislikes green vegetables, have fun making a dish of broccoli mac and cheese together.
Mistake #3: Insisting on Finishing Their Plates
Instead: Aim for 1 tablespoon per age of your child for each dish (about 2 or 3 dishes). So a 2-year-old child should receive 2 tablespoons each of carrots, rice, and meatloaf. Also, serve snacks about 1½ to 2 hours before mealtime. Instead of focusing on a clean plate, encourage eating until they’re full.
Mistake #4: Ignoring Food Preferences
Instead: Be considerate when they tell you they don’t like a food. Also, go light on big flavors when cooking for children.
Mistake #5: Giving Up Too Soon
Instead: Present the food often and allow the toddler to play with it. This includes touching the food and allowing the child to put it in their mouth and spit it out. Over time they will accept it.
Mistake #6: Feeding Inappropriate Snacks
Instead: Plan balanced snacks that include fruit, veggies, protein, whole grains, or dairy products.
Mistake #7: Using Food as a Reward
Instead: Reward your child for good behavior (not for eating their veggies) with non-food items like a trip to the park, a bubble bath, or extra play time.
Mistake #8: Not Regulating Sugary Fluids
Instead: Get them used to water early on. Or consider mixing ½ water ½ juice instead of all juice to space it out.