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Has Your Toddler Started To Refuse Foods? Here Are Our Top 3 Tips For Food Acceptance

baby eating off plate

Is your toddler refusing to eat foods that they previously accepted well, and even seemed to enjoy? 

This is a huge struggle that many parents face and can truly put you to the test. It can be frustrating, not to mention concerning when as a parent you want to ensure that your little one is having a well-rounded diet. You're definitely not alone.

Many children experience what is referred to as the “honeymoon phase” of eating after starting solid foods. This phase may last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year, during which your child will typically accept new foods well and eat what’s offered to them. However, after the honeymoon phase passes, you may notice that your little one becomes more selective.

The good news is that there are steps you can take as a parent to support your child in developing mature eating habits and becoming a well-rounded eater. 

Here are our top 3 tips for supporting your child’s food acceptance

1. Avoid labeling your child as a “picky eater”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of labeling your child as a “picky eater”. This can have a negative impact on their confidence and worsen their food refusal. Firstly, it may lead to limiting the foods you would typically offer your child, either intentionally or unintentionally. With food refusal, it’s important to continue offering a wide variety of different foods even if they've previously refused it. Children also pick up on these labels from a shockingly young age, which can impact their confidence and apprehension towards certain foods. Instead, make sure to continue offering a variety of foods including foods they've previously refused in a neutral manner, all while avoiding pressure.  Try offering foods in different ways: grilled vs. steamed for example.

2. Make sure that you’re being a good food role model

Children learn so much from watching others around them– and with feeding skills, this can be both a positive and negative! As a parent, it’s important to try your best to be a good food role model for your little ones. This means that eating together as a family is key so your kids have the opportunity to learn from you. When you’re eating together, make sure to include a variety of foods on your own plate. You can even go out of your way to try new foods as well, so that they can learn from your confidence.

3. Increase their engagement by getting them involved in the kitchen

Involving your child in the kitchen is a great way to help them gain confidence, not to mention the benefit of developing lifelong food skills! This can look a lot of different ways depending on the age of your child, the time that you have on a given day, and their interests. It could include having them help you pick a new vegetable for the family to try, going through recipes together, or even involving them in age-appropriate cooking steps or activities. When your child helps contribute to a dish that is served, their willingness to try that dish is often much greater!

The most effective way to improve food refusal is to understand and address the root causes of the behaviour. Working with a registered dietitian to understand your child’s eating habits can help you put changes into place to build your child’s food skills. Book a complimentary meet & greet call with our registered dietitian today to learn more!


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