Is your toddler refusing to eat anything other than fried food and sweets? Are every mealtime a battle where your toddler is either throwing a tantrum, playing with their food or throwing them away? Just so you know, you’re not alone. It is totally normal, especially once your baby passes the stage of rapid growth and weight gain. Their appetite will slow down and they will begin developing food preferences, a fickle process.

Dealing with picky eating takes a lot of patience, so try not to get frustrated and know that, with time, your kids’ appetite and eating behaviour will level out. In the meantime, here are some effective tips that can help your kids develop better eating habits and get through their picky eater stage.




Respect your child’s appetite

When the kids play with their food or refuses to eat, don’t get agitated or angry at them. Don’t try persuading or forcing them because it’ll never work. This will only ignite or reinforce a power struggle over food. In addition, they will associate mealtimes with anxiety and frustration; or for some kids, they will feel even more overjoyed watching your reaction whenever they rebel.


Set a meal schedule

Just like having your kids to follow a study schedule, it works equally effective when you set mealtimes at about the same time every day.  This sets a discipline for your kids to get used to. Your kids will learn when to expect food to be served and it will help her to anticipate for meal time when they’re hungry.


Mouse hungry


Serve only one meal

Resist the urge to make another meal if they refuse to eat as this only encourages picky eating. Remember, if they ask you for food after their meal time, DO NOT give in. At most, offer them healthy and boring alternatives. I understand that parents can be soft-hearted when it comes to your kids, but you must train them to appreciate their meal times. Let them wait for their next meal time! As time goes by, your kids will appreciate their mealtimes more and becomes less picky with their food.


Offer them boring alternatives

Instead of preparing another meal, offer them boring but healthy alternatives like plain yoghurt or cheese. Many parents have commend that it worked. Their kids mentioned that it was not worth to not try what was served to them as they were offered the most boring food as substitutes.


Limit meal time

Allow your kids a maximum of 20 to 30 minutes for each mealtime. After this time, even if they refuse to eat, put the food away and let your kids leave the table. In circumstances where your kids play and throw their food around, keep your cool and act as calm as you can. Just casually put away their food away and let them know that you assume that they are done with their mealtime.  “Ahh, since you’re playing with your food, I supposed you are done. If you’re hungry, you will have to wait for your next meal time.”


Strategies for Picky Eaters


Do not bribe them with dessert

Many parents often offer their kids dessert as a reward if they finish up their meal. However, do note that you’re only sending a message to them that dessert is the best food and they will demand for it in exchange for anything you want them to do. You may redefine dessert as healthier options such as yoghurt, fruits or nuts instead.


Serve in small portions

Serve in small portions, so that your kids are not overwhelmed and let them independently ask for more if they want. This way, it increases the chance that your kids will eat when they see a smaller portion meal.


Food portions


Change up the menu

Have different variety and rotate them every mealtime. Not only it promotes healthy eating, your kids will be more open to trying out new food. Lots of parents fall into the trap where they serve the same “vegetable” everyday just because their kids love it. The kids will eventually get bored of it and despise it instead. I mean, who wouldn’t?


Make food fun

Children are especially interested to trying food that is eye-catching and attractive. Make their meals look irresistible by arranging them in cute, colourful shapes that they can recognise. For instance, you may arrange and cut vegetables into various shapes such as bug, butterfly and more. In addition, kids prefer finger foods. You may cut solid foods into bite size pieces that they can easily eat themselves.




Minimize distractions

Ensure that there are no distractions around your kids during meals. Put away their toys and electronic gadgets, and turn off any form of distractions such as the television. This will help your kids to focus on their meal with no distractions. Also, keep in mind that exposing your kids to television programmes and advertisements may encourage them to prefer snacks and sugary food.


Have family meals

It is encouraged to always have family meals everyday as children eat better when the whole family eat together. In addition, your kids will be more willing to try new food when they see others at the table eating the same food. However, if you or your spouse have busy schedule, try scheduling family meals a few days a week and include it into your schedule.


Involve your kids in meal prepping

Bring them with you to the market or grocery store, and let them help you with choosing your meal ingredients – vegetables, fruits etc. During meal prep, encourage them to help you with the simplest thing, whether it’s washing the vegetables, decorating the plate or setting up the table. This will help your kids to feel in control and encourages them to eat what they helped prepare.


Strategies for Picky Eaters


At the end of the day, remind yourself that it is totally normal for children to be “fighting” against food as they reach a certain developmental stage. Try your best to keep calm and don’t get agitated at them. After all, it’s not their fault. As long as your kids are gaining weight normally and meeting developmental milestones, you are reassured that everything is fine. However, if you’re still worried or if they’re not gaining weight, bring them for a health check with your doctor.