My daughter is a year and a half, but I wrote this post when she was one year old. Our definition of meals and snacks for our family has shifted. Last year, I published this post with tips for the transition to starting solids, but the eating adventure continues as your child grows. Here are some things to remember with feeding as your infant transitions to toddlerhood:
1. It all balances out. I try to remind myself of this every time my daughter has a day when she doesn't eat as much. Some days will be better than others. It is not about nutrients eaten over one day, but over time.
2. Toddlers may slow down how much they are eating. In the first year of life, infants may triple their birth weight! Now that your child is getting older, he or she may have less of an appetite. This scares some parents, but it is very normal.
3. They are developing likes, dislikes and preferences. I don't like to call it "picky eating." It's actually a developmental milestone as children develop their tastes and preferences. When my daughter was around 9 months old, she would eat anything on her plate. Around one, she started tasting foods and spitting them out, and many times, not even trying foods at all. Although it can be frustrating to us parents, our children are becoming more independent and making their own choices.
4. It may take 15-20 attempts of offering a food before your child accepts it. Keep offering and trying. Additionally, what they like one day they may not like the next day. My daughter loved salmon one week and when I offered it to her the following week, she wouldn't even touch it. Along these same lines, sometimes toddlers get tired of a certain food (think about having the same dinner three nights in a row), my advice to this is to try to repurpose your food. Have grilled vegetables for dinner, try adding these to a quesadilla the next day for lunch.
5. Meal planning and preparing in advance is key. Taking a little but of time on the weekends to get myself prepped for the week takes off a ton of stress (stay tuned for a blog post dedicated to meal planning). After my daughter goes to sleep I spend a few minutes getting her meals prepped for the next day. This makes mornings just a little less stressful.
6. Remember the feeding relationship: parents are responsible for the what, where and when, and children are responsible for the how much and whether. You can only offer your child food, and they are the ones to decide how much they want to eat.
7. Give yourself a break. You are doing the best that you can do. We all have days where our children are going to eat nothing but plain cheerios for dinner or we have to do something we said we never would as a parent. It's about balance. You are doing great!
Happy eating :)