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How to Make Food More Appetizing

You can also add colour with a sprinkle of paprika, a small side salad, sweet potato fries or a bowl of chopped fruit.

Add texture

For example, sprinkle yoghurt with granola, top a slice of cheesecake with chopped nuts or add a dollop of creamy sauce to crunchy vegetables. You can also add breadcrumbs to casseroles and dishes before cooking or toast sandwiches before serving.

Ensure that the dish is hot or cold, not room temperature

Hot and cold foods appear fresher and more appetizing than room-temperature foods. However, make sure the food is not dangerously hot, especially when serving young children or the elderly.

Add extra spice or flavour to the meal

For example, add flavour with garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, chopped chives, curry powder, cumin, cilantro or oregano. If possible, use fresh herbs, as they are stronger than dried herbs.

Serve the meal on attractive dishes

For example, square plates add a modern feel, while oval dishes look trendy. Make sure the dishes are the appropriate size for each quantity of food; dishes that are too large for the amount of food served can make it appear as though there is not enough food for everyone to share.

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Meal Ideas For Picky Toddler

Do not make your toddler try a new food if she does not want to, but provide options. Sometimes a piece of bread folded in half is more appealing than it is when flat.

Make Meals Fun

Provide the opportunity for your toddlers to play in an acceptable way while eating. Put out dipping bowls with different condiments. Provide healthy optionslike cottage cheese or a mix of cream cheese and peanut butter. Apple sauce or pureed vegetables might be just what your child wants to dip his crackers in instead of eating them plain. Make a homemade shake for a meal with lots of fruits and low-fat yogurt. Use your imagination to add fun to traditional foods. Cut the crusts off sandwiches and put a smiley face on top of a burger or pancake.

Be Creative

Combine foods intoone easily eaten packagelike a cheeseburger-stuffed baked potato option. Hide healthy foods inside foods that toddlers like to eat. Zucchini bread or flax-seed cookies are options. Chop up carrots and celery and add them to meatballs or hamburgers. Make foods into different interesting colours, like serving up green eggs made with the water from steamed broccoli or spinach. Let your toddler help you make that peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then tell you how delicious it is because he made it.

Be Flexible

Always have several options at the ready in case your toddler is especially picky. Keep some of your toddler’s favourite meals in the cupboard or in the freezer. Most toddlers like fries and you can use other vegetables like the sweet potato or zucchini to prepare these–or, bake the fries instead of frying. Have vegetables sliced up and keep them in storage containers for a quick snack idea. Offer a breakfast item for dinner or a dinner item for breakfast. Toddlers do not care what they eat or when.

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Appetite Slump in Toddlers

As long as your child’s energy level is normal and she is growing normally, your child’s appetite is most likely naturally slowing down.

What is the cause?

Babies may gain 6kgs during their first year. Between 1 and 5 years of age many children normally gain only 1kg or 2 kgs each year. Children in this age range can normally go 3 or 4 months without any weight gain. Because they are not growing as fast, they need less calories and seem to have a poorer appetite (this is called physiological anorexia). How much a child chooses to eat is controlled by the appetite centre in the brain. Kids eat as much as they need for growth and energy.

Many parents try to force their child to eat more than she needs to because they fear that her poor appetite might cause poor health or a nutritional deficiency. This is not true, and forced feedings actually decrease a child’s appetite.

How long will the appetite slump last?

Once you allow your child to be in charge of how much she eats, the unpleasantness at mealtime and your concerns about her health should disappear in a matter of 2 to 4 weeks. Your child’s appetite will improve when she becomes older and needs to eat more.

What can I do to help my child?

Put your child in charge of how much he eats at mealtime.

Trust your child’s appetite centre. Children eat as much as they need. Your child’s brain will make sure he eats enough calories for normal energy and growth. Serve well-balanced meals. If your child is hungry, he will eat. If he’s not, he will be by the next meal. Even reminding him to eat or to eat more will work against you.

Allow one small snack between meals.

The most common reason for some children never appearing hungry is that they have so many snacks that they never become truly hungry. Be sure your child arrives at mealtime with an empty stomach. Offer your child no more than two small snacks of nutritious food each day, and provide them only if your child requests them. Keep the size of the snack to 1/3 of what you would expect him to eat at mealtime. If your child is thirsty between meals, offer  water. Limit the amount of juice your child drinks . Let your child miss snacks if she chooses and then watch the appetite return. Even skipping an occasional meal is harmless.

Never feed your child if he is capable of feeding himself.

Parents of a child with a poor appetite will tend to pick up the spoon, fill it with food, smile, and try to trick the child into taking it. Once your child is old enough to use a spoon by himself (usually 12 to 15 months), never again pick it up for him. If your child is hungry, he will feed himself. Forced feeding is the main cause of eating power struggles.

Offer more finger foods.

Finger foods can be started at 6 to 8 months of age. Such foods allow your child to feed herself at least some of the time, even if she is not yet able to use a spoon.

Serve small portions of food—less than you think your child will eat.

A child’s appetite is decreased if she is served more food than she could possibly eat. If you serve your child a small amount on a large plate, she is more likely to finish it and gain a sense of accomplishment. If your child seems to want more, wait for her to ask for it. Avoid serving your child any foods that she strongly dislikes (such as some vegetables).

Consider giving your child daily vitamins.

Although vitamins are probably unnecessary, they are not harmful in normal dosages and may help you relax about your child’s eating patterns.

Make mealtimes pleasant.

Draw your children into mealtime conversation. Avoid making mealtimes a time for criticism or struggle over control.

Avoid conversation about eating.

Don’t discuss how little your child eats in her presence. Trust your child’s appetite centre to look after her food needs. Also, don’t praise your child for eating a lot. Children should eat to please themselves.

Don’t extend mealtime.

Don’t make your child sit at the dinner table after the rest of the family is through eating. This will only cause your child to develop unpleasant feelings about mealtime.

Common mistakes.

Parents who are worried that their child isn’t eating enough may start some irrational patterns of feeding. Some awaken the child at night to feed her. Some offer the child snacks at 1 hour intervals throughout the day. Others permit snacks that are larger than a regular meal. Some try to make the child feel guilty by talking about other children in the world who are starving. Others threaten, “If you don’t eat what I cook, it means you don’t love me.” Some parents force their child to sit in the high chair for long periods of time after the meal has ended. The most common mistake is picking up a child’s spoon or fork and trying various ways to get food into her mouth.

How do I prevent feeding struggles?

The main way to prevent feeding struggles is to teach your child how to feed herself at as early an age as possible. By the time your child is 6 to 8 months old, start giving her finger foods. By 12 months of age, your child will begin to use a spoon and she should be able to feed herself completely by 15 months of age.

When you feed your child (before she is old enough to feed herself), you can wait for your infant to show you when she is ready to eat (by leaning forward, for example). Let her pace the feeding herself (for example, by turning her head). Do not put food into a child’s mouth just because she has inadvertently opened it. Do not insist that your child empty the bottle, finish a jar of baby food, or clean the plate.

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

  • Your child is losing weight.
  • Your child has not gained any weight in 6 months.
  • Your child also has symptoms of illness (for example, diarrhoea or fever).
  • Your child gags on or vomits some foods.
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Converting a Picky Eater

Many parents say it is because they have a “Picky Eater” and these are the only foods the child will eat.

What most parents don’t realize is that all toddlers are picky eaters. And it’s perfectly normal, even expected developmental behaviour. It may surprise you to find out that this behaviour has very little to do with the taste of food and is mostly about wanting control of a situation. Most toddlers learn very early that eating is very easy to control and it is likely to get a response out of you. This makes it fun (for your kid, not you)!

The big challenge for parents is NOT to give into this behaviour, and DON’T fall into the trap of offering bland, unhealthy foods as a replacement for flavourful, healthy foods. This can be a difficult time. Here is our advice:

Start early

Children form habits that make them picky eaters. Habits are hard to break. You are better off if you can prevent the habits from forming. At the very first signs of finicky behaviour, explain to your child that it is not healthy to eat the same foods all the time. Serve a good variety of foods at meals, and encourage your young ones to taste new foods. New food choices can be described as “special treats.”

Include them

Children are more likely to eat something that they have helped make, so get your children involved in preparing meals. You can also take them shopping and teach them how to find and select foods. Involving your kids in making decisions reinforces that you care about their opinion and want to make things that they like. Never ask “Do you want broccoli for dinner?” offer choices like “Do you want broccoli or cauliflower for dinner?” Simple choices make your child feel like they are the ones in control.

Set goals

Be realistic about setting goals. It is not realistic to try to force your child to eat a whole serving of food that they claim not to like. Instead start off with small expectations, like one bite of the new food, and work your way up from there.

Be consistent, firm, and don’t give up

Use the same tactics at each and every meal. Put new foods on your child’s plate first. Remind your child of the goal and offer plenty of encouragement. Don’t give in to stubbornness. It may also work to try “Look Mommy (or Daddy) will try a bite with you.”

Don’t rush meals

It is quite likely that your child is a slow eater, and this is a good habit to encourage. Offer your child plenty of time to eat a meal.


Even if it is just one nibble, congratulate your child. For a picky eater – this little nibble is a big deal. Ask them if they thought it was tasty. If the say “no,” tell them it may take a few bites to notice the delicious flavour or suggest maybe it would taste better with ketchup on it. The point being, don’t let them shutdown the thought that this food may actually taste good someday.

Be a good role model

It is plain and simple. You cannot expect to raise children that eat a good variety of healthy foods if you do not. This fact goes for all adults who sit at the table with your children. Your toddler learns from watching and mimicking you. You may have to venture out of your own comfort zone of eating and try new foods yourself. Remember, you are being watched.

Above all, don’t scold your child or get mad if they don’t eat new things right away. Some kids just need a little more time to try new foods. Eating should be a pleasurable experience.


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Toddler Eating Habits: Golden Rules

After all, given your tot’s new mobility, he’s far more interested in cruising around and exploring his world than sitting still to eat.

It’s all you can do to strap him into a high chair long enough to dish out a serving. Then, there’s the issue of getting him to actually eat the food you serve; if your toddler is anything like most, he may have become very selective (make thatsuspicious) about the foods he’ll eat. Add these challenges to your toddler’s developing sense of independence (usually asserted with a loud “No!” when you put food in front of him) and you’ve got a perfect storm blocking your feeding efforts. Still, as challenging as getting your toddler to eat well can be, this is actually an ideal time to start teaching him about healthy eating habits. That’s because the patterns he develops now will likely be the ones he’ll carry into adulthood. So start him off right with these golden rules of toddler dining.

Make healthy meals and snacks.

Since your child can’t exactly opt out of dinner and take the car to the drive-through himself, you get to decide what’s on the menu. That makes now a prime opportunity to help him learn to like nutritious foods — and to limit the foods that are high in fat, sugar, cholesterol, and sodium. What should you serve? Focus on lean beef and poultry, fish, reduced-fat dairy foods, brightly colored vegetables and fruit, and whole-grain breads, pastas and cereals. For yummyandhealthy meals, use these tips tosneak in nutrientsand modify toddler favorites. And don’t worry if your toddler doesn’t eat from every food group at every meal. As long as his diet is balanced overall, he’s doing fine.

Take your cues from your toddler.

Though Mom and Dad do know best, it’s important to recognize that young children have a pretty good handle on when they need to eat and when they don’t. Some days your child will eat like a horse. Other days, it will seem as though he’s channeling Gandhi on a hunger strike. This is normal, and you don’t need to worry about regulating his every bite. In fact, you’ll be doing your toddler a big favor bynotinsisting he eat when he’s not hungry. Part of teaching your toddler healthy eating habits is helping him to recognize when he feels hungry and when he feels full. Kids who are pushed to have “one more bite” often learn to ignore their bodies’ signals, and that can lead to overeating and weight problems later on. So continue to offer your child regular meals and snacks, but if he decides to pass, let him. You can offer another healthy snack later. If your child consistently doesn’t finish what’s on his plate, try scaling back the portions and letting him ask for more if he wants it. And rest assured that if your toddler is growing well, you can feel confident that he’s on track.

Be a good role model.

Toddlers want to do what they see us doing (that’s why your little guy likes to wear your gloves or talk on Daddy’s cell phone). So if your toddler sees you eating fish and chicken, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables while avoiding fried and junky foods, he’s much more likely to follow your lead. Plus, you’ll have a tough time explaining why Mommy can eat cookies for dinner while the kids have to eat vegetables!

Mix things up.Who says your toddler can’t have turkey-cheese pinwheels for breakfast or oatmeal for dinner? As long as it’s nutritious, it doesn’t matter when he eats it. Serve whole-wheat pancakes with fruit for lunch or a grilled-cheese sandwich for breakfast. Your toddler may get such a kick out of it, he’ll be more than happy to eat up.

Keep offering new foods.But don’t be discouraged if your little one doesn’t immediately say, “Yum!” It may help to remember that “no” doesn’t really mean “no.” It often means “not now.” Research shows that it can take ten or 15 tries before a toddler will accept a new food. So there’s no need to force the issue each time. If at first you don’t succeed, simply try, try, try again.

Have family meals.This is a great way to model healthy eating habits for your toddler and also teach the lesson that meals are about more than just food; they’re about turning off the TV, putting away the Nintendo Wii, and connecting with family and friends. Plus, studies have found that children who have regular family meals eat more produce and whole grains (and less junk food) than kids who don’t have family mealtime. If dinnertime is too hectic because you have older children involved in after-school activities, find another time that works, like Sunday brunch.

Let your child choose.Toddlers are all about independence, so offer your tot healthy choices (Do you want a whole-grain waffle or cereal for breakfast?). It’s one way you can tap into his desire for control while still making sure he’s eating healthfully.

Clean out the cupboards.If you don’t keep chips, cookies, candy, sugary cereals, punches, and soda in the house, your toddler is less likely to eat or drink them. After all, it’s pretty hard to beg for a treat (or cave in and give your toddler one) if your child can see that there are no treats to be found. That said, there’s no need to ban junk food completely. An occasional splurge (say, at a birthday party or other special occasion) teaches kids that these foods are fine in moderation, and that they don’t have to sneak them behind your back — or binge on them when they finally come their way.

Give up your job as a short-order cook.You want to make food your child likes eating, but you’re not running a restaurant. So rather than cooking something just for your toddler, make a point of including something he likes eating at every meal (say, noodles with tomato sauce or a baked potato with cheese) and then encourage him to taste what you’re having (baked chicken or veggie stew) — and leave it at that. Eventually, he’ll figure out that if he wants to eat more, he’ll need to start eating what’s on the table.

Watch the milk and juice intake.Of course, these are healthy parts of a toddler’s diet. But when kids drink more than 16 to 24 ounces of milk and more than six ounces of juice a day, that can fill them up so they’re not hungry for other nutritious food. Guard against this problem by offering your little one plenty of water or even diluted juice (this will cut the calories and sugar in the juice and make it last longer).

Don’t worry if your toddler eats only one thing — for now.As long as it’s not cotton candy, it’s fine to let your toddler go on a “food jag,” as toddlers are known to do. Usually these jags are short lived. So don’t stress: Continue to present your tot with a variety of healthy options, and keep reminding yourself that this, too, shall pass, and he’ll eventually outgrow this phase. In the meantime, your toddler’s current meal plan won’t have a long-term negative effect on his health.

Avoid using food as a reward or a show of love.A job well done — going to the potty, picking up toys — deserves kudos. But if you get into the habit of offering treats for every accomplishment, it can lead your toddler to develop an unhealthy emotional relationship with food, which can in turn lead to overeating later on. By the same token, avoid serving up food when what you really mean to serve up is love. This will also send your child unhealthy signals about emotions and food that can lead to overeating. When you want to reward your child or let him know how much you love him, give him hugs and kisses. They’re much more valuable than candy — and calorie-free.