What happens if my toddler refuses to eat?

Is your toddler avoiding food? Don't worry! Nutritionist Jaime Rose Chambers has some words of wisdom

Practical Parenting Expert and nutritionist and dietitian / February 19 2019

 Toddlers are aged between one and three and this is a time of enormous change as they become mobile and more independent in their world. It’s also a time where nutrition and attitudes towards food change!

By the age of one, toddlers have moved away from relying on breast milk or formula as their main source of nutrition and are now exploring solid foods and often eating with the family. This can be an easier time for both parents and toddler because meal times can be more flexible and inclusive. But it can also be a real struggle as toddlers begin to exert their independence and eating times can become more challenging.

 It’s not uncommon for toddlers to also like a food one day, and refuse it on another. No wonder us parents are exhausted!

 But if your toddler isn't eating, here are a few tips worth remembering

  • Always give your child full fat milk until the age of two. If they're not having much else this will help because of a high fat requirement and the additional nutrition available in full fat milk. They can then move over to reduced fat milk after two if you wish.
  • Constipation is common in toddlers due to their often erratic diet and fluid intake. Always offer toddlers some fruit and vegetables each day, as well as milk and water to help with normal bowel motions. Sneaking these all into a smoothie can be helpful.
  • Toddlers have a better in-built hunger mechanism than adults – they also have varying energy requirements due to developmental leaps and how active they’ve been. Let them help guide you as to how much food they need.
  • Make the most of your toddlers best meal of the day when they’re most alert to get a nutritious meal into them, such as breakfast or lunch. Dinner can often be the most difficult meal because they’re tired and ratty from a busy day, so don't panic if they refuse it!