Toddlers are hard work at the best of times, but it’s even tougher when you are pregnant and struggling to sleep because of multiple trips to the bathroom every night.
Most mothers-to-be find a second or subsequent pregnancy much harder because they have less time to rest.
Throw in a stroppy toddler that refuses to eat anything but fries and chicken nuggets and it’s no wonder you’re at breaking point every mealtime!
One of the biggest issues is that toddlers are just discovering their independence. There’s a huge difference between a placid 8-month-old baby and a fractious 18-month-old toddler.
Some toddlers will erupt into a tantrum for the smallest of reasons, such as too many peas on a plate or their juice is in a different sippy cup.
Unfortunately, once a toddler starts saying no and refusing to eat, no amount of coaxing will break the deadlock.
If your toddler is being fussy about food, here’s how to break the pattern before your next baby arrives.
Fortified Toddler Milk
While toddlers will rarely starve themselves, it’s still important to make sure they are consuming enough nutrients.
One way to do this is to give them fortified toddler milk packed with essential nutrients such as Vitamins A and D, and omega 3DHA.
You can find 2-26 Gold from ALULA on the Me and My Child website. S-26 GOLD Toddler is perfect for children added 12+months.
Toddler milk offers toddlers an extra nutritional boost they don’t get from drinking cow’s milk or juice all day. It’s also a nice transitional product when you are weaning your toddler away from breast milk.
Eat as a Family
Too many families these days don’t make time to sit down together at mealtimes. Parents often work long hours and childcare may be handed over to older siblings or childcare providers.
Meals are served at different times to fit around everyone’s schedule. However, while this may fit in with modern life, it’s not great if you have a fussy toddler.
Most toddlers eat much better when they see others tucking into different foods. When presented with brussels sprouts, for example, he’ll probably refuse to try them if he’s eating alone with just you in attendance.
But if he sees his siblings and parents enjoying sprouts without making a fuss, he’s far more likely to try them in a non-judgemental way.
Eat with Friends
Children are less fussy when they eat with their peers. Seeing his friends eating different foods will help persuade him to try new things.
Try inviting other children over for playdates and taking the opportunity to serve new foods for your toddler to sample. He’ll be more receptive.
Try and Be Relaxed at Mealtimes
Resist the temptation to turn mealtimes into a battle zone. The more angry and frustrated you get, the more resistant your toddler is going to be when presented with different foods.
Keep mealtimes low-key. Don’t attempt to introduce new foods when your toddler is tired, grumpy, or feeling poorly.
Keep him distracted by chatting about what he’s been doing at nursery or what the pets are doing. If you keep the mood happy and relaxed, he’ll be less likely to refuse to eat his dinner or throw a tantrum over a new item on his menu.
Serve Small Portions
Toddlers only have small stomachs, so they can’t handle large meals. Don’t serve huge portions, or he’ll be overwhelmed by the quantity of food on his plate.
Provide a Range of Different Foods
Instead of giving your toddler one or two foods, mix and match using a selection of different foods. Begin with savory foods and end with some fruit or a yogurt.
If he doesn’t like the taste of one course, he might still be willing to try the next dish. That way, even if he refuses to eat some veggies in the first course, he still gets to try some nutritious fruit in the dessert course.
Be careful not to offer sweet foods as a reward for eating savory foods. This ensures your toddler only sees sweet foods as being the desirable option, so when he’s feeling out of sorts, he won’t want savory dishes.
Make mealtimes fun by having picnics in the garden when the weather is nice. Kids love to eat somewhere new and a picnic is a wonderful way to persuade a toddler that food is interesting.
Let him eat finger foods and have fun with veggie sticks and dips. He’ll probably eat far more than he would if he was sat in his highchair.
Let Your Toddler Help You Prepare Food
It’s good to encourage toddlers to get involved with food preparation. You may be tired and feeling like a small caravan but ignore the potential mess and get stuck in when you have the time.
Toddlers love to feel part of what you are doing, and if they have a hand in preparing the food, they are much more likely to eat the end result.
Sweet treats are an obvious choice but be careful of only letting them help you with biscuits and cakes. It’s fine to let toddlers decorate cookies and add sprinkles to buns, but there are savory dishes they can help with too.
Have a family pizza night and let your toddler add their own toppings to the pizza. Buy some ready-made pizza bases to save time.
Grate some cheese, chop up mushrooms and tomatoes, slices of pepperoni, peppers, etc., and encourage your toddler to add the ingredients they fancy.
And if they snack on some slices of pepper or pieces of pepperoni along the way, that’s a good thing!
Try not to worry if it seems as if your toddler has a very restricted diet. Most children do grow out of their fussiness as they mature, and peer pressure persuades them it’s not cool to avoid whole food groups.
If you are concerned, speak to your child’s doctor for advice, but while you are pregnant, remember, not all battles are worth fighting.