- Sweetness indicate calories whereas sour and bitter tastes signal the presence of harmful toxins or bacteria. Now we can stop wondering next time your toddler tries to reach out for the pain au chocolat instead of the broccoli stir-fry that you lovingly made for him. It’s all down to survival! Of course if we hadn’t let H have a taste of the pain au chocolat then we probably wouldn’t have this problem in the first place.
- Food that helps your toddler feel satiated or fuller quickly will also be more preferable such as bananas or potatoes.
- Your toddler may have learned to avoid a particular food after vomiting or feeling nauseous after consuming it. Or any bad experience that he or she may have had that he or she learned to associate with the food.
- At a young age, almost all food is novel. It will take time and experience for the food to become familiar.
So what can you do:
Giving children lots of opportunities to try different flavours is a great way to increase their exposure to a wide variety of tastes. There are studies that shows that early introduction of foods during weaning is correlated with greater acceptance in later childhood1. Make sure the exposure is repeated. Do NOT force the toddler if he/she does not want to eat what you have given them. I would just say ‘Oh you don’t want to eat right now, that’s fine’ and remove the toddler from the dining table. I try to maintain patience and follow this advice as it is crucial for me that it is HIS choice to eat.
Social facilitation or modelling.
Isn’t it the cutest when your baby/toddler tries to copy you? As parents, we should set ourselves as role models not just with what we eat but with our attitude to food and eating habits too. Now, this does not always work with little H, but I find that this works best when I engage in a social conversation with him without talking about the food that we’re eating or what we are doing.
Avoid using food as a reward. This will only make the ‘reward’ food more desirable and the ‘access’ food more of a chore.
Don’t give in or make alternative food for your little one.
That sounds harsh but the more you give in, the more you encourage “fussiness” and you might actually be depriving your child the opportunity to learn to eat different types of food. I offer H the same food that we eat although with less salt. If you currently don’t have a varied and healthy diet then perhaps thinking about your little one’s experience of food can help you switch to a healthier one.