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When your Toddler Won’t Eat Anything ~ Part 4

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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: When your Toddler Won’t Eat Anything ~ Part 4

Monday, January 28, 2008

When your Toddler Won’t Eat Anything ~ Part 4

We are talking about basic strategies for encouraging your toddler to eat healthy. You can read the first strategies and source information here before continuing.

4. Just keep trying ~ “the rule of fifteen”

Our toddlers can be picky, and very cautious! While some will exhibit this behavior during the second year, most will show it to some extent after hitting the two year mark. Imagine living with your two year old long ago when day care and office jobs weren’t the norm. When you were out tending the garden or washing the clothes, your little ones would be playing near by. A sense of caution in what was put into their mouths would have been appreciated as they came across poisonous berries and other things, and God built this caution in.

What once may have saved the lives of many toddlers, however, can now be painfully frustrating to us as mothers. We are tempted to yell, threaten or bribe (even being reduced to tears) our little ones, finally giving up for the peace of the family meal. Understanding our little one’s cautiousness and working through it patiently is the key (very patiently!)

This is where we apply the “rule of fifteen”. It can take up to fifteen times of being offered the same food before your little one welcomes it openly. Try not to make a big deal out of whether or not your toddler eats the particular food. If it is neglected or rejected the first time, simply eat it yourself or freeze it for another meal. Toddler portions are small, so you could even throw it away and not feel too badly about food waste. Don’t include it at every meal, but wait 3-14 days and then try it again. If your toddler has a non-threatening atmosphere in which to slowly get used to and try a new (and scary) food, over time, he/she will accept most things.

After sharing this strategy with a friend of mine a couple years ago she tried it on her 3-4 year old. The first time asparagus was offered the little girl didn’t like it. After a short time, it showed up on the dinner table again. The little girl said, “Mommy, remember, I don’t like this”. My friend said she needed to try it at least (however many times) before deciding she didn’t like it, so her daughter tried it again. The little girl’s response… “Mommy, you must have prepared this differently this time.” She herself was surprised to like it. Turns out that nothing was different in the preparation… she just needed more exposure!

Be patient as you offer that new food again and again in a low pressure atmosphere! You may be surprised at the result! If you are, I’d love to hear about it! :)

When your Toddler Won't Eat Anything ~ Part 5

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