Hi, I think I need some help. My nut free, soy free, seed free, wheat free toddler is giving me a run for my money. Every meal feels like a battle that I’m losing. I’m on the verge of tears because I try so hard to feed her, but she doesn’t want most of the food I make. What do I do?
I know the season you are in, and it’s not an easy one. There are a few things I want to remind you of. First, it’s not your job to force your child to eat. Do you remember when your kiddo was a baby and would cry for food? When they were done they sent you the signals and they stopped eating? It’s like that.
It’s our job to make sure that food is available and it’s their job to listen to their body to know if they’re hungry.
It’s not uncommon for a toddler (restricted diet or not) to eat like a 6 foot man on Monday and like a little birdie on Tuesday. If we trusted them as babies to understand their hunger cues, we have to support that through the toddler years too.
Next, make sure you aren’t serving foods that are too extreme for a toddler. Their taste buds are sensitive. Also, make sure the food you’re serving really does taste good. Additionally, toddlers like foods that are predictable. Think about how in a container of blueberries some are firm and some are squishy. Make sure you’re serving some consistent foods at each meal.
Experiment with different textures and temperatures. Enlist the help of food play as well. Get your toddler in the kitchen with you, helping prepare meals. Now, this last one, it’s going to give you a run for your money too because toddler “help” in the kitchen is debatable. However, the amount of food exposures they get that way is invaluable. The time spent with them is precious, and it’s an opportunity to have positive food talk, sample flavours together, and overall, just have a good time.
The fact that you’re on the verge of tears tells me it’s time to bring in reinforcements. It might be in the form of a therapist for yourself to help ease the mental load. It also might mean taking a picky eating course, or in some cases, a feeding therapist for your child. Maybe you need a break? It’s important that you not neglect your own needs because I can tell you from first hand experience, it doesn’t end well.
When we as parents are refreshed and recharged, it allows us to be on our A-game for our kids.
My final thought for you: the foods your toddler is willing to eat, lean into those right now. Use those foods as stepping stones to new options.
You’re going to make it!
~The Allergy Chef
Feeding Toddler Resources
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