Feeding issues are among the most common concerns from parents at our 15 month, 18 month and 2 year visits. As a rule there are no quick fixes, but I’ve found that reinforcing best practices and encouraging patience are a great help.
Babies are usually good, compliant eaters and feeding time can be a fun and pleasant experience. Most people wouldn’t say the same thing about feeding a toddler. Often this transformation from a good eater to a problem eater is rapid and parents frequently feel ill-equipped to deal with their toddler’s feeding issues. In an effort to make sure their picky eater gets the nutrition they need, parents will use techniques that are disruptive to a child’s developing relationship with food and self-feeding. Common examples are: using a screen or phone as a distraction while feeding, holding a child’s arms down, following them around the house with the food, or giving a bottle at night when a toddler is sleeping. Almost every parent knows these methods aren’t ideal, but the concern for their toddler’s nutrition can override common sense.
As I’ve heard one pediatrician say: “the food pyramid wasn’t built in a day.” If your toddler is already experiencing some feeding issues, it’s going to take patience and perseverance to get back on track. Toddler feeding is a balance of supporting your child and giving them the space to learn. Here are some best practices to get you started:
For additional information, I give a two hour talk to parents on this topic every year at Kindering and there are still questions at the end! Toddler feeding is clearly an important and complex issue, but thankfully the solutions are fairly straightforward. If you have concerns about your little one, or are having trouble distinguishing between picky eating and a more serious feeding problem, talk with your doctor and come prepared with a list of questions. Your pediatrician is your single best resource and will help you navigate the sea of information you hear from friends, family, and find online. In my opinion, I think the following books and resources are great.
Dr. Rick Keeler is a pediatrician in the Allegro Pediatrics Redmond Ridge office.
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