There are things that you have to see to believe. Some examples are unicorns, UFOs… and unfussy toddlers?
The third is actually not as mythical as the first two. As rare as they are, there have been many documented sightings. As crazy and unfair as it may be, there are parents out there who are enjoying feeding all kinds of food to their toddlers who, in turn, readily accept them.
Nature or Nurture?
Is a non-picky toddler a random gift or a product of wise training? While we can’t dispute that some cases might have involved the luck of the draw, the parents of these extraordinary toddlers, more often than not, claim the credit.
Perhaps a touch green with envy, you might be inclined to point out that it’s a rite of passage. Parents have to suffer through picky eating in the toddler years of their children or the experience isn’t complete.
Well, these lucky moms and dads don’t really feel like they missed out. Many of them also think it’s okay for you to skip the picky eating stage, hence their generosity in sharing tips that will make it possible for you to do so.
There are ways to encourage adventurous eating in your children, even in the toddler years. Try the following recommendations to raise little ones who are willing to explore new foods:
1. Expose your children to variety from the get-go.
Ideally, exposure should have started at pregnancy, then continued in infancy while they’re being breastfed, but it can definitely start late.
Once they can already eat table food, you have to start treating every food as kid-friendly, be it caviar or stinky tofu. If you withhold certain foods because you don’t think they’re appropriate or palatable for toddlers, you could very well be operating on false assumptions.
Low expectations may just be the source of your feeding troubles.
2. Avoid issuing commentary.
The key here is to not impose your own food preferences and prejudices. Let them find out what appeals to them without your judgment coloring their own. Seemingly innocuous statements such as “you might not like it” or “you’ll love this” have plenty of sway on their reaction, so serve the food and keep your mouth shut.
3. Treat them as a regular diner in your family.
First and foremost, take your meals together as a family as often as possible. This way, they can see you enjoying all kinds of food and hopefully mimic you.
Serve them what you’re eating and don’t tone down the flavors. There are cultures that start their children on the strong flavors of spices while they’re still babies, so that means that young tongues can take them.
On that note, jarred baby foods in France come in a wider variety, including gourmet selections. Is it any wonder that many French children grow up with a sophisticated palate?
4. Let them experience food beyond eating it.
It’s ideal if you have a garden and can pick your own produce, but if you don’t, the process will just have to start with grocery shopping and food preparation. By doing this, food becomes more interesting and complicated, not something that miraculously appears on the table, easy enough for them to accept or reject.
It would also be good for toddlers to eat plant-based foods that can be eaten raw in their natural state before they’ve been manipulated and seasoned into an actual dish. This way, they can have a better appreciation for the real flavors of food and how they can be good enough as they naturally are.
Easy Breezy Feeding
If at first your children don’t fall in with the agenda, don’t give up. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same may be said for adventurous eaters.
If you put in the work in the beginning and persist against resistance, you will be reaping the rewards soon and both you and your children will benefit from the training for many, many years to come.