Feeding Fussy Toddlers – A Printable!

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Happy May Day! Today is a holiday in Germany, and here in the Rhineland that means May Trees! Last night all the young guys ran around hoisting and appending colourfully decorated birch trees onto the homes of their sweeties! It’s an old tradition, a big party and quite a charming sight in the morning. It’s one of those stand-out, appealingly foreign cultural quirks that reminds me I am somewhere new, and I love it.

This morning I’m enjoying some quiet time at home cleaning and prepping for Jonah’s third birthday this Sunday! Jonah (at his adamant request) is off at his Oma’s place helping to bake his “chocolate birthday cake with chocolate letters on it”! He literally woke me up all a chatter, stoked for his baking session.

And speaking of cake… ha! No, rather, speaking of most other food on the planet – how about feeding that toddler? Fun stuff, eh? I’ve got something cool for you today! My very first DOWNLOADABLE, PRINTABLE resource! It’s a set of 8 guidelines for feeding fussy toddlers. Aww, Yeah!  Here’s the story.

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When Jonah was about 18 months old, he started straight out blindly refusing foods. Even stuff he had previously eaten! Awesome, right? And obviously, mostly healthy stuff. He’d been eating squash and avocados since he was half a year old, but suddenly these things were dicey. I fully freaked out. I begged, cajoled, distracted, spoon fed him pantomiming any number of trucks, trains or animals, made up crazy songs, and – ugly confession – in desperation, I did try to force-feed him a bit, which was not a good idea, surprise! It was really stressful. And then at some point I had the sense to do a little poking around on the internet and I found some helpful resources.

I ended up making myself a set of 8 mealtime guidelines based mainly on this fact sheet for healthcare professionals, plus a little from my practical experience working under an OT with special training in feeding issues (note: if you want more of the ‘why?’ behind the guidelines, read that fact sheet or leave a comment). I framed and hung it, front centre above our kitchen table and there it remained until two weeks ago! I stared at that list, bleary-eyed for so many meals, and it really helped me to stay on track and just chill out.

Thing is, food refusal is generally a pretty typical part of development happening between 1-3 years age. Now, it’s important to note that some kids seriously have legit feeding issues, beyond the scope of normal fussy eating, and that should be handled differently – please, be kind to yourself and see an OT! 😉 But for the typical kid, these guidelines are helpful. And sure enough, Jonah is eight million times better about eating now. Not perfect by a long shot, but it’s day and night. In large part, he probably just grew out of it, but we saw a lot of changes pretty quickly too – for example the strength of his refusal went down quite a bit, which I think had a lot to do with our behaviour. And – not to be undermined – it was really good for my mental health!

So you can take a look at the list, below, and download a nice quality version for printing right here:

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD HI-RES VERSION OF TODDLER MEALTIME GUIDELINES.

Mealtime-Guidelines-for-Toddlers-for-web

Please share away and enjoy! I hope you find it helpful. Also – I’d love to hear your experiences – successes and trials – with the fine art of kid-feeding!

xo
Elena

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