Picky Eating and Weight Loss in Toddlers

Picky eating is an expected part of toddlerhood and one of the many ways your toddler will challenge your creativity, resourcefulness, and patience as a parent. After infancy, the appetite naturally decreases as the growth rate slows down. Coupled with a burst of energy, learning to walk, run, and scoot from one end of the house to the other, you may find that your toddler is not packing on the pounds the way they did when they were younger.

Always check with your pediatrician to determine if weight loss might be caused by something other than picky eating. If everything checks out and your toddler is experiencing an expected

plateau in weight gain, there are solutions to encourage them to eat and even try out new

foods at meal and snack times.  

Keep reading to find out how to introduce new foods to a new picky eater and how to avoid the common pitfalls. 

The Do’s 

The best approach to avoid unintentional weight loss when your toddler exhibits picky eating behaviors is to show patience and give your toddler grace as they become familiar with the world around them. 

Build upon the foundation that you already have and introduce new foods one at a time. If your child continues to refuse to expand the horizons of their tastebuds, try sneaking in healthy fats and oils to foods they already enjoy eating. 

Here are three ways to encourage your picky toddler to eat new, healthy foods.

No Pressure Approach

Play it cool and use your toddler’s favorite foods as bait. Try offering new foods served with the mainstays in their diet. This way, they don’t feel deprived of their favorite finger foods but also have the choice to try something new.

Snack Time

What kid doesn’t like snacks? Use this as an opportunity to introduce them to fun, new food. Try serving the snack in their favorite tray, cup, or bowl to give them a sense of familiarity and pique their interest. 

Keep it Simple and Fun

Having your toddler eat new, healthy foods doesn’t have to be complicated or tedious.

Toddlers love dip; who doesn’t? Try cutting carrot sticks into slim, easy-to-grab strips with a side of hummus, or use a vegetable-cutter to turn cucumber slices into stars and hearts with a side of homemade ranch dressing. 

The Don’ts 

As with most things concerning toddlers, one false move and the best-laid plans can be easily obliterated. Here are two things that should be avoided when encouraging picky eaters to try new foods and stay on track with their growth and developmental milestones.

Avoid Unfamiliar Textures

If your toddler loves yogurt, avoid adding granola or chunks of fruit directly into it. Instead, offer the granola or fruit chunks in one of their favorite cups and encourage them to use the yogurt as a dipping sauce.  

Don’t make a Fuss about Food

Children take cues from adults, especially their trusted parents or caregivers. If you make a big fuss over food, meal and snack times are more likely to become times of frustration. The best practice is not to give up the first time if your toddler refuses. Try again, maybe a different way, and keep playing it cool. 

Avoiding Weight Loss in Toddlers due to Picky Eating

It’s essential to understand the developmental stages of toddlers when it comes to making choices and a new-found desire for independence. Your little one is probably walking, climbing, running, and jumping. They are discovering new sounds, shapes, and textures and want to start doing more for themselves. 

No longer do they need to be strapped into the latest contraption so that you can have free hands to pour your third cup of coffee. They are growing up – fast! And they know it – and, if they aren’t 100% sure that you know it too – they will tell you often, usually by shouting.

Be patient with your child as they decide what they like and hate. Having your child eat a well-rounded, nutritious diet is a marathon, not a sprint!

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