My three year old's mealtimes are full of drama. She will be really easy one day and eat everything I give her, and the next day she'll keep food in her mouth without swallowing for hours!! Her paediatrician says not to worry and it'll all fall into place but meal times stress me out! Please help.
The fact that she keeps food in her mouth and refuses to swallow it tells me that she is certainly not enjoying the experience of meal times. Get a toddler plate and put small amounts if food in front of her. She can finger feed or use her fingers or cutlery, but she needs to eat on her own. If she does not want to eat, do not force her. Keep an eye on how much milk she is drinking. Too much milk takes away a child's appetite. Make sure she has had nothing but water up to 2 hours before her meal. Snacking destroys the appetite as well. A healthy hungry child will eat what ever she is given most often. If she does not eat much at one meal time she will eat well at the next. It's best to look at her consumption of food weekly rather than daily, as toddlers often have days were they hardly eat anything at all, this is normal.
Well done for taking your paediatrician advice and not being angry. Don't focus too much on rice and curry. Bread, potatoes and pasta are as good and as healthy. Children love variety in their meals, toddlers do not like to eat rice and curry each day. So give her alternatives.
Get her to help with the shopping and the cooking. Kids this age love making simple pizzas or cookies. Help her to love and enjoy her food again.
It's sweet of you to try and explain to your daughter why she needs to eat to be healthy, but sadly at this age she is not gong to be able to relate to that concept. Make sure that she does not get juice or Milo or flab outed milk as they are full of sugar and can suppress the appetite. Give her a healthy well balanced diet and she will be happy.
All mums want to give their kids the best nutrition throughout the day, but knowing how to do that without giving into quick fixes of empty calories can be challenging, at times. Now that your child is three, she should be able to comfortably navigate many of the same foods you eat—the key is giving her smaller portion sizes at meals and snacks throughout the day, to fuel her high energy needs.
Things to know about feeding 3-year olds:
Compared to infancy or the toddler years, 3-year olds have smaller stomachs and lower energy needs relative to their size.
They tend to get full on a small amount of food; allow them to follow their hunger/satiety cues.
At this age, they are not swayed by portion sizes of healthy foods and stop eating when full. But new research shows that when 3 year olds are given foods high in sugar, fat and salt, they can overeat, so portion control these foods and let your child follow hunger cues of more healthful foods.
Look at the big picture, offer a variety of foods, and make meals pleasant by focusing on family, not food.
Since their small stomachs don't allow them to eat big portions, they need foods that pack in a lot of nutrients.
Plan regular meals and snacks with a variety of foods, and let your daughter eat how much or how little as she wants;offering regular, planned meals can keep you from becoming a short-order cook and your child from becoming a picky eater.
Eat with your child and model positive eating, from table manners to enjoying food; focus on enjoying family meals together, not what your child is or isn't eating.
Have your 3-year old help out in the kitchen. Helping to cook—stirring pancake batter, count vegetables for a recipe—and clean up—wiping tables—develops useful skills and a sense of accomplishment. Many preschool ages kids can use a plastic knife to help cut bread or softer vegetables, like pumpkin.
Bring foods to the table in serving bowls and have your preschooler serve herself or ask her how much she wants on her plate if you serve it to her.
Hope this helps. Remember to do your best to make mealtimes an enjoyable experience for both you and your child.