Posted on 22. November 2016
Toddler tastes – how your little one develops “favourite” foods
Is your toddler... how shall we put this... bananas about bananas? Or perhaps in your house, it’s sweet potato, or pasta? Most toddlers are prone to having food favourites, and as you’ve probably already realised, they can often adore their fave food of the moment to the exclusion of just about everything else – no matter how carefully prepared or creatively presented it is.
Of course, like many other toddler quirks that seem designed to drive parents round the twist, this sort of behaviour is perfectly normal. It’s all part and parcel of their ongoing project to discover who they are as separate people to Mum and Dad; realising that they can not only like or dislike a flavour, but express an opinion about it as well (sometimes quite vocally!) is all part of developing their own unique personality.
If you’re the sort of parent who feels strongly about balanced nutrition for kids, this picky eating phase probably gives you all kinds of anxiety. After all, when you realise your beloved son or daughter has subsisted for the last three days on the occasional piece of plain pasta, it’s easy for the spectre of malnutrition to raise its ugly head. But, say experts, you really don’t need to worry. Here are three good reasons why:
- Toddlers’ appetites are actually smaller than they used to be. In the first year of life, the average baby triples their birth weight – and they need a lot of fuel to support that rapid growth. But by toddler age, their growth is slowing down a bit from that early spurt, which means they need fewer calories – and they tend to reduce their intake instinctively to match their needs (clever little munchkins that they are!) Add that to the fact that they’re pretty much always on the go, and it’s no wonder they seem to be living on air... but as long as they’re still gaining weight appropriately and have lots of energy, you don’t need to worry. Really.
- Today’s favourite will be tomorrow’s has-been. Yes, your little one may be totally enamoured of apples – and only apples - right now, but in a few days, chances are good their tastes will turn to a new favourite... if you’re lucky, maybe peas, or carrots. As long as you’re managing to get in a reasonable variety over the course of an average week, nutritionists say there’s no reason to panic. Instead, let their fickle taste buds do the work for you!
- You can always play a few tiny tricks. Does your toddler love bread and baked goods, but refuse eggs and milk? Why not make a pancake or muffins with the same ingredients – they’ll never guess! Dips and spreads are another good way to sneak in nutrition; toddlers tend to love the fun (and mess) of DIY dinner, and may be more willing to try yogurt/peanut butter/cheese spread/fruit puree as long as they’re the ones doing the experimenting.
Perhaps the best reason not to stress about a picky eater, though, is that it can actually make matters worse, turning mealtime into a battle of wills. And that’s no fun for anyone!
Does your toddler have a favourite food or foods at the moment? Are there foods they won’t touch, no matter how you try to disguise them? Let us know on our Facebook page!