15-Month-Old Toddler Development: Picky Eaters
You might be feeling like a short-order cook these days. Toddlers are notorious picky eaters. One day they'll eat nothing but noodles, the next day they hate noodles. And just when you think you've cracked the code, your kid will pull a hunger strike and refuse to eat anything. It's enough to drive you nuts. But don't let it! What you're thinking: "If you spit out, throw, ignore, mash, play with, sit on, fill your nostrils with or do anything other than eat that broccoli, I'm going to lose it."
- Despite what you may be tempted to believe, your picky eater isn't on a one-kid mission to test your sanity. In fact, some researchers suggest that genetics—not your cooking—cause kids to be averse to trying new foods. Still, toddlers can't live on cheese crackers alone! Luckily there are some things you can do to help keep your kid interested in eating.
- Even if you want to curse like a sailor when your kid acts like you offered him a pile of dog doody for dinner, don't cave to temptation. Instead, slap on the smile you reserve for your frenemies and pretend it's all groovy. If your kid picks up on your stress, you can bet he'll delight in torturing you even more.
- Make mealtime as fun as possible. When you can, sit down as a family and have a relaxed, happy conversation. (In other words, don't plop your plate down in front of your partner and bring up your phone call with his mother.)
- Variety may be the spice of life, but try telling that to your "mac n' cheese again" toddler. It's totally normal for your kid to want to eat the same thing Every. Single. Day. So don't get too freaked. Ask your doc about giving him a multivitamin if you're worried about him getting all (or any) of his daily nutrients.
- Don't give in to food fights by catering to your kid's every culinary whim. In other words, don't cook six different meals to please your budding food critic. You're the boss! So offer one healthy meal and then the kitchen's closed. Up your chances at success by including one thing you know your kid will like. (And no, a slice of cake doesn't count.)
- If you feel like throwing in the dishtowel sometimes when dealing with your picky eater, don't. Stop, drop and order a pizza. Don't feel guilty about serving your kid takeout every now and then (or heck, even every other night). There are only so many "Eat your broccoli!" fights a parent can handle.
- "My son used to eat everything I would put in front of him when he was an infant. Since he began toddling and eating regular foods, he will not eat vegetables—for the most part, anything green. He will eat corn. But anything green has to be removed from his plate before he'll eat anything else."
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All kids grow and develop at different rates. So please don't compare your toddler with so-and-so's from across the street—you'll just drive yourself nuts. If you have any concerns, bring them up with your pediatrician at your kid's next checkup.