10 Tips for Picky Eater Toddlers

21 March 2012

When Twin Toddlers Become Picky Eaters and What To Do About It

For the first time in over one month, my twins ate chicken. That's a big deal for me though you may not get it. You see, when I was pregnant these girls had me driving in rush hour traffic 5pm everyday to get my fix of KFC original spicy chicken. It started at around 4 months pregnant with a 2 piece meal. By my delivery date, I was buying the family bucket to take home for snacking. I swear the babies were the ones eating this stuff not me.

Now that you have the background, you can better understand how mind blowing it was when they started refusing chicken along with a lot of other foods. I dreaded that I may have picky eaters in my hands. Dreaded because I hate labelling kids as picky especially because I used to be the queen of picky eaters. So here's the little tricks that stopped us from descending into hardcore picky eating with twin toddlers
  1. Substitute within the food groups. When the twins stopped eating chicken, I started giving them sausage instead. They stopped liking wheat bread and butter, gave them raisin bagels with cream cheese instead. Suddenly hated pasta, I substituted with rice and barley. The grocery store is full of options
  2. Add grown-up novelty to the feeding time. Sometimes the girls ate more when I served them out of our dinnerware or gave them teaspoons instead of their plastic spoons
  3. Feed them. By feed them, I mean I'm actually the one putting the food in their mouth versus them feeding themselves. It may seem retrogressive, but because I encouraged self-feeding from when the twins were 9 months old, they are not used to me spoon-feeding them and sometimes that makes the food go down (At other times, they slap my hands away)
  4. Replace cutlery with mommy's hands. They love this as well
  5. Share a plate. They will eat anything as long as it's on mommy or daddy's plate. A piece of toast on their plate gets the pinky-flick. On my plate, they can't get enough of it
  6. Divide, distract and conquer. This works if one twin always likes to imitate the other. In twintopia, Sugar likes to do whatever Spice is doing and Spice is the more selective when it comes to food. So when Spice says no to food, Sugar does the same in imitation. The trick to to distract Sugar for a minute or two and resume feeding her only. This works for a lot of other scenarios as well when it comes to parenting twins. It pays to know which twin is doer and which one is the mirror
  7. Make mealtimes freestyle. This is does not help develop good table manners but still... Just let the kids play and come to their food at whim. It works in that they're so distracted with their play that they're eating on auto-pilot and forget to say no
  8. Increase calorie-density of foods. If they won't eat much, at least let the little bit be full of calories. I've done this by adding extras into their omelettes, adding powdered formula to their milk cups, substitute yogurt for greek yogurt and occasionally replacing milk with Pediasure
  9. Don't make a big deal out of their refusal to eat. Kids are smart and kids love to have 100% of their parents attention. Twins moreso because they've always had to share the attention. If they make the connection that refusing to eat, earns them a lot of attention, they'll do it all the time. Once the twins say "all done" I take away the food and move on to other things. If I don't make it a big deal, neither will they
  10. Relax! As one very wise doctor told my panicked parents when I drove them to dispair as a toddler picky eater "Leave her alone. She'll eventually eat when she's hungry. Believe me, she's not going to starve herself" and he was right! 
Anyway, so back to last night's chicken triumph; all it took was numbers 2,3,4,5,7 and 9 to get the twins eating chicken again. I feel good because I really didn't want to eat the 3 pieces of chicken all by myself.

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