You’ve got to love the toddler years! They are full of little gifts like hitting, screaming, and even licking! These little folks can give you some problems to deal with, can’t they? In this post, we are going o look at the ‘my toddler doesn’t eat’ phase. Because if you are not going through that at the moment, you will be soon!
Getting a toddler to eat is a battle that every parent will (probably) face at some point, but when they are consistently not eating, it can start to become worrying.
Here are some helpful suggestions and tips to put your mind at ease.
What you will learn:
- 5 common reasons why your toddler doesn’t eat
- 5 things you can do to help
Table of Contents
- My Toddler Doesn’t Eat! Why? Here Are 5 Reasons
- 5 Ways You Can Get Your Toddler To Eat
- Frequently Asked Questions
My Toddler Doesn’t Eat! Why? Here Are 5 Reasons
This page is no replacement for medical advice. If you think there is a medical reason why your toddler doesn’t eat, then you should seek out a face to face consultation with a pediatrician, or a dietician. Whilst the internet is an excellent source of info, it is no replacement for medical advice where needed.
If you are going through the ‘my toddler doesn’t eat’ phase, then these 5 non-medical reasons might be the reason.
Toddlers Don’t Grow As Much
Babies grow quickly, but when your child reaches 2-3 years old, their growth slows down, meaning they don’t need as much to eat as they used to.
This is a common reason why toddlers eat less or refuse food altogether. Once they reach school age, they will start to grow more steadily, and their appetite will return.
Food Doesn’t Hold Their Interest
Your toddler is very interested in the world and everything that is going on around them. So expecting them to sit still and eat their food for the duration of meal times is a big ask.
They will become bored very easily and stop eating so they can go off and explore. At this age, food just isn’t that interesting to them.
Some parents will put the TV on to encourage them to eat, but this may just distract them even more. It certainly distracted my son when he was going through this phase!
They Are Picky With Their Food
The toddler years are the most common for kids to become fussy eaters.
They are sensitive to taste, smell and how a food feels, so they will reject any new food you try to give them, often without even trying it. Remember, the first bite is with the eye!
Worst of all, they have just started finding their voice, and have learned the word “no”, which they will often use at mealtimes, bedtime, bathtime, and just about every other time in fact!
They May Be Snacking Too Much
Toddlers have quite small stomachs, so don’t need to eat as much as older kids or adults. If your child is refusing to eat at meal times, then try and observe what they eat during the rest of the day.
It could be that they are eating lots of snacks in between meals, so just aren’t hungry when you serve up their main meal.
They Could Be Ill or Just Tired
If your toddler stopped eating for no apparent reason, it could be that they are just under the weather. Even a cold or temperature will be enough to put them off their food. You know what that is like, right?
As long as they are staying hydrated, their appetite will return soon. If it’s mainly a problem with their evening meal, then they could just be tired and will make up for the food they don’t eat at their next mealtime.
5 Ways You Can Get Your Toddler To Eat
Along with these 5 tips, you should always set a good example to your toddler when you are eating. If your toddler sees that you do not eat your meals, they will follow. If your toddler sees that you always finish your meals, they will also look to finish meals! If you are asking the question: my toddler doesn’t eat, what can I do? then you can follow these 5 tips…
Don Not Pressure Them To Eat
The more you try to get your toddler to eat, the more they will refuse to do so. Dragging out dinner time, until they have eaten one more spoonful, will just stress everyone out and make them dread meal times all together.
It may be difficult, but try to let your toddler eat what they like from their plate. Praise them when they eat something, and it’s more likely they will continue.
If they don’t eat much, they will make up for it later on. Toddlers do not go hungry for too long without letting you know!
Remember that toddlers have small stomachs, so don’t expect them to eat lots of food.
Set Meal and Snack Times
Regular meal and snack times can let toddlers know when it’s the right time to eat and the right time to play.
Give them opportunities to eat around six times a day, so they can get the food they want at regular intervals, and won’t go hungry.
Try to leave no more than 3 hours between eating times. Give them a little nudge when mealtime is coming up too, so that they know that it will soon be time to eat.
Let Your Toddler Pick Their Food
You’ll want to introduce your toddler to new foods, and you’ll want them to be healthy.
Select something from all the food groups (dairy, fruit, vegetables, protein, etc) and just let them eat what they pick.
Vary the foods, but stick to the food groups, and learn what your toddler likes and doesn’t like. Don’t worry if they don’t finish everything on their plate.
They will eat enough to keep their tummies full.
Also try not to give them too much milk, as this will fill their stomachs and replace food.
Learn To Be Patient
Just because your toddler refuses to eat something once doesn’t mean they will never eat it. If they leave something on their plate, and it’s obvious they haven’t even tried it, give it to them again a week or so later. It might take a few tries, but they will eventually try the food, and may even like it.
Just keep persevering.
It’s also a good idea to let them feed themselves. Yes, they might make a mess, and they might take a while to finish a meal, but if you can give them food that they don’t need help with eating, then it will make mealtimes a bit more interesting for them. They will also feel less pressure to eat.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
If you feel you’ve tried everything, and you fear your child might be losing weight, then don’t feel ashamed or worried about asking for help.
Dieticians and medical professionals are there to give you some professional advice or see if there’s a reason for your toddler’s fussy eating, such as a food allergy.
If there isn’t, then it will put your mind at rest, and you’ll know you just need to give your toddler a bit more time to figure out their eating habits.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do when your toddler won’t eat?
If you are going through the ‘my toddler doesn’t eat’ phase, then you can try the tips on this page. do not pressure them, set consistent meal times, let your toddler choose their food, rein in the snacking, and ask for help if needed.
How do I stop my toddler from refusing to eat?
Always make sure that your toddler is hungry when it comes to mealtimes. If your toddler is not hungry, they will refuse to eat. If your toddler is hungry, they will (hopefully) eat. There are a few exceptions, for instance, if your toddler is sick.
Do toddlers go through a stage of not eating?
Yes – this is a very common phase for toddlers to go through. As phases go, it is one of the easiest to fix, because they will get hungry if you cut back on their snacking! Usually, that is the end of the ‘my toddler doesn’t eat’ phase.
So if you’re sitting there thinking “my toddler doesn’t eat”, or your toddler stopped eating suddenly, then give these tips a try.
Remember that the majority of toddlers will go through a period of fussy eating, and there are reasons for it.
So just relax, be patient, and let your child pass through this phase.
They will be eating you out of house and home before you know it! the ‘my toddler doesn’t eat’ phase will be a distant memory…