My child doesn’t eat much or is a fussy eater…..
Is your child a picky eater? Does your toddler not eat much or only a few types of food? Surprisingly, toddlers often do quite well on a fairly restricted diet, but here are a few things that might be useful to know. If a child is growing well and developing normally, that is a good sign that they are likely to be getting enough nutrition, so if you’re not sure, you can ask to have their weight and height checked and plotted on their growth chart by the health visitor or GP.
- Drinking lots of milk?
If your toddler is still drinking a lot of milk this can reduce appetite for food, and contribute to constipation and iron deficiency. Try reducing milk intake gradually, either by reducing the amount or by watering it down.
Constipated children also often have a very low appetite. If your child ever passes any small hard stools or has to strain, it may be worth talking to your GP. Appetite will often improve once constipation has been properly treated.
- Won’t eat new foods?
Around the age of two years, children may suddenly develop a dislike of new foods which is a normal developmental phase, even if they were being quite adventurous before this. You need to offer a new food many times before it may become acceptable (studies suggest up to 14 times!) Getting children to help with shopping and cooking or giving them a choice between two meals can also help. Never force a child to eat. Putting a few choices of food in small bowls to serve themselves can make a child feel more in control and more likely to try something new.
Recommended book: My Child Won’t Eat by Carlos Gonzalez
‘Fabulous, easy to read, anxiety-relieving resource for parents weaning their children’ Lesley (Parent and GP)
Some ideas on healthy eating
- Coping with fussy eaters advice from Family Lives with ideas on encouraging your child to eat
- NHS advice on fussy eaters, weaning, healthy foods, and a video on ‘how do I manage a fussy eater’
- Common questions on young children and food answered ideas for healthy snacks and lunchboxes, what to do if your toddler only likes sugary drinks and more.
- Some tips on healthy eating on Cbeebies
- I’m worried my child is overweight If you’re not sure if your toddler might be overweight you can have their height and weight checked with your GP. Practical advice for overweight pre-schoolers