Why kids pick at their food and what to do about it
Some reasons kids just pick at what’s on their plates, from Lauren Graf, R.D., a pediatric dietitian at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, NY:
The culprit: Too much to drink. Constantly sipping juice or milk between meals fills a small stomach and can blunt a toddler’s appetite.
The cure: Limit juice to 6 to 8 ounces a day, and milk to 16 to 24 ounces total.
The culprit: Little nibbles. Small snacks can keep a kid so satisfied that lunch or dinner doesn’t hold much appeal.
The cure: Snacks are okay, but limit them to two per day, and make sure most are healthy ones, like crackers and cheese, yogurt, fruit, or turkey.
The culprit: Distractions during mealtimes. It’s easy for a young child’s attention to wander.
The cure: Turn off the tube, take away toys, sit with your kid, and actively urge him to eat. Play airplane with his lasagna if you must (but follow his fullness cues).
One more thing to remember: He may simply need less food than you think. “Toddlers eat less frequently and consume fewer calories per pound of body weight than they did as babies,” says Graf. Your pediatrician can give you realistic intake guidelines.