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Mealtime Help for Fussy Toddlers

Mealtime Help for Fussy Toddlers

Useful tips and meal ideas to help your picky eater break out of their comfort zone and resolve mealtime fussiness.

Raise your hand if mealtimes have turned into an emotional drama! When broccoli is “too icky” and peppers are “so yucky,” a temper tantrum may erupt, and a battle between your well-intentioned healthy meal and your toddler’s dietary desires could unfold.

Research has shown that a wide variety of factors can lead to fussy toddlers. For instance, picky eating patterns could be linked to personality traits, maternal eating habits, or parental control during meals. Sometimes, fussy eating is just your toddler practicing assertion of food autotomy (in other words, they’re exerting some newfound independence!). In a nutshell, parent-driven and child-driven causes can be at play.

At the end of the day, the reason behind your toddler’s fussy eating is less important than getting them to eat is! When healthy fruits and veggies are avoided (or thrown across the room…yikes!), key nutrients that support your toddler’s diet are being missed out on… no good! We know you want to change this, and that’s where these ideas may help. Focus on implementing the following mealtime tips and incorporating some toddler meals for fussy eaters.

What are some of our go-to fussy toddler eating tips? Check them out:

  • Get creative with presentation: Use cookie cutters to cut veggies into fun, playful shapes and serve with yummy dips. Colorful silicon baking cups make for exciting dip holders!
  • Make it colorful: Use bright, rainbow-like foods to make the plate look pretty and capture your toddler’s attention.
  • Talk about it: Sit with your toddler and have some fun exploring what’s on their plate. Rather than focus on a food’s flavor, talk about its shape, smell, and texture.
  • Create balanced plates: On top of fussy eating, toddlers’ appetites are usually all over the place (enormous one day, small the next), which can make serving a balanced, nutrient-rich plate especially important. If you’re worried that your toddler isn’t getting enough nutrients, include Enfagrow PREMIUM Gentlease into their daily routine for extra support.
  • Repeat exposure: Toddlers are very curious about anything new, but sometimes too much newness causes hesitation. Simply repeat food introductions until your toddler feels comfortable and adventurous enough to take a bite!
  • Pair newbies with oldies: Serve your toddler’s most-loved foods alongside the new, healthy ones that you’re introducing to encourage a positive association. The familiarity of the favorite food can also help decrease skepticism of the new food.
  • Sneak ‘em in: There are always ways to sneak in “scary” foods! Blend up veggies to use as dips or sauces, add spinach or kale to fruit smoothies, top cereals and toasts with fruit, or mix grated veggies into pastas and soups.
  • Use a fun, new utensil: Find an interesting eating utensil set to boost your toddler’s curiosity (because they love new utensils, they’ll likely try out how it works on whatever food is in front of them!). Look for car-themed utensils if they enjoy cars or find ones with their favorite movie characters!
  • Stick to a consistent meal schedule: The consumption of snacks and juices/milks throughout all hours of the day may decrease appetite by the time lunch or dinner rolls around. Use a structured eating time to help avoid that!

Need some fuss-friendly meal inspiration? Turn to the internet! On Instagram, you can find many popular food accounts created by parents who’ve managed to outmaneuver fussy toddlers. In the meantime, give these toddler meals for fussy eaters and balanced snack combos a go:

Creative Meals

  1. DIY waffles or pancakes — include almond butter and pumpkin in the base!
  2. Pasta with veggie-based sauce (think tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, and basil!) and meatballs
  3. Quinoa chicken nuggets paired with broccoli and peas
  4. Whole-grain French toast sticks and a side of strawberries
  5. Pasta salad with beans and avocado mixed in

Balanced Snack Combos

  1. Cauliflower patties and cashew cheese dip
  2. Fruit strips and trail mix
  3. Cucumbers, grapes, pretzels, and peanut butter
  4. Banana, string cheese, and red pepper
  5. Apple, hummus, crackers, and broccoli

If your fussy eater still needs some time (and it does take time!), consider incorporating Enfamil’s Enfagrow PREMIUM Gentlease into their diet. It has easy-to-digest proteins and 22 total nutrients.

All information on Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil.