Why is my toddler a picky eater?

Toddlers are BUSY. They are busy learning how to interact with the world. This involves learning all kinds of big, new skills like talking, walking and remembering. These new skills are building quickly, and it’s a lot for our little ones. Let’s look at two year old milestones:

  • Physical Development –
    • Gross motor: child is perfecting their walking into running, kicking a ball, climbing, learning to jump.
    • Fine Motor:  child is scribbling, feeding themselves with fingers and practicing spoon or fork, throwing with relative accuracy, pulling off socks, manipulating toys in various ways (pushing buttons, twisting knobs, pulling levers).
  • Social & Emotional Development – 
    • Children at this age are beginning to experience the world as an individual, apart from you. This new found independence is all very new, and they will practice that independence in many new ways, often testing limits because they aren’t yet to the stage where they know the rules and follow them. They are learning to convey their emotions to see what reactions they cause.
  • Language Development –
    • Two years old might be able to now speak in two-word phrases, such as: “baby sleeping”, “more eat”, “all done”, “mommy up”, etc. 
  • Cognitive Development – 
    • Memories are becoming more intact. Still, you can’t remember your second birthday, but the building blocks of these memories are more stable than in infancy. They are also beginning to engage in pretend play, a movement from parallel play to more interaction.
  • Adaptive Development – 
    • Children might start beginning to potty train now, which is a steep learning curve. They might be learning how to dress, feed themselves, help clean up, and participate more in their hygiene (washing hands, brushing teeth, etc.). 

It’s a LOT! It can be a confusing time for our little ones, resulting in a few (okay, many) meltdowns. They are busy processing so many things, that when we come to them with (omg) a NEW food, especially something that doesn’t look like their usuals, they are quick to control the situation and refuse.

 So what can we do to help? 

Understand the major changes they are going through and empathize. We can find foods that are similar to their preferred foods, and present them in a calm, optimistic way, allowing many attempts at their own pace. We can introduce foods that they are easily able to maneuver within their mouths, and present them with age appropriate portions that aren’t overwhelming. Last, but not least, we can make it FUN! 

I know, as a mom it’s hard to always be “on”, but if meal time is an area of focus, we can work hard on making sure we are available during the meal, and engaging with our little eaters. 

Contact us for more help in your area! 


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