As the mom of a toddler who seems to survive on animal crackers alone, I know a thing or two about picky eaters. I also know a thing or two about the guilt and stress that comes along with having a toddler who is a picky eater. It can be downright exhausting trying to get food into them, and the worry that they're not getting enough fuel every day can be all-consuming. Have you seen these signs your toddler is a picky eater? They'll help reassure you that you probably shouldn't worry.
Luckily, most toddlers exhibit picky eating at some stage and that picky eating isn't cause for concern. Pediatrician Jarret Patton explains that “Picky eating is like a rite of passage for toddlers," and the way to teach your toddler how to eat a variety of foods is to not give in when they don't like what you've offered. "Good eating habits start in infancy and often parents accidentally sabotage their child’s future eating habits when the baby frowns at a new food choice," says Patton. "It is important to offer a variety of foods as an infant or toddler while continuing to offer those foods even if they don’t like it."
Patton reports that parents are often to blame for a child becoming a picky eater, "Parents lose the battle when they give into food preferences for fear of the child starving. If a parent sticks to the plan, their child develops a variety of eating preferences. Don’t let them be in charge of the family menu.” So instead of cooking only what you know your child will eat, consider making sure he has enough healthy and nutritious options and stocking up on patience while he comes around to trying them all.
While most picky eating in toddlers is normal, pediatric dietician Jill Castle told Parents that there are certain red flags you'll want to watch for if you think your toddler is extremely picky. If your toddler experiences weight loss or stagnant growth, if he or she has emotional reactions to new foods, or if your little one eats less than 20 foods, you'll want to check with your doctor. In the meantime, you can rest assured that these are the signs you've just got a run-of-the-mill picky toddler on your hands.