Sensory intelligent tips to get your toddler to eat

Posted: 20 May, 2016

By: Annemarie Lombard

Section: Education, Parenting

Sensory intelligent tips to get your toddler to eat

Are you struggling to get your child to eat?  This can easily become a very frustrating and stressful experience for both mother and child.  We hope the following tips will take the stress out of eating …

See – smell – touch – taste
This is part of the developmental sequence when learning to eat. First experience food through what it looks like, then smelling it, touching it, and finally putting it in the mouth. Food must be varied and put on our children’s plates whether eaten or not. A visual memory of the food will be stored and when repeated enough it will eventually find its way into their mouths. Encourage finger foods; after seeing and touching food, it becomes more familiar and the brain recognises it before eating.

Have fun
Food and mealtime must never become a power struggle as it so often does. Present your child with healthy and a variety of food, but don’t force eating. Create a positive atmosphere, preferably around the table so that your toddler can follow you by example. Sweets should be given as a treat and only after meals. Be careful not to reward children with food as it has the potential to create negative eating habits. Associating rewards with food has the potential to create health and lifestyle issues later in life.

Invite friends
Have a pizza party. Let children roll out their own dough, prepare the toppings and bake. It can become quite messy but look the other way. Remember that getting dirty and messy are important sensory experiences for learning. As a bonus children will be more inclined to eat it.

Tea parties
Toddlers love tea parties.  Arrange food and drink for them in tiny cups and saucers and let them have a “tea party”. Food will be in tiny little bite sizes that are more manageable for them. They also will motivate each other and follow eating in a group.

DO NOT eat in front of the TV
I know this is a difficult one for parents but one does encourage poor eating habits this way.  Sitting at the table and eating is best – we set a good example, model good eating skills (yes children are not born knowing how to manage a knife and fork and table manners) and encourage communication.
Remember that your toddler has a tiny stomach and they need small meals more regularly.

Good luck with the feeding frenzies!