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But you really don't want your toddler eating dessert if he hasn't eaten his dinner. What to do? First of all, rethink what you're serving for dessert. For most people, sweets are palatable even when they are full, which may be why a non-hungry toddler is still willing to eat a bowl of ice cream even though she wasn't hungry for dinner. Try offering desserts that make a positive nutritional contribution to the meal. For example, instead of ice cream, serve a pudding made with skim milk, such as rice pudding. Serve fruit salad or a fruit and yogurt 'sundae' instead of pie. If it's cookies, make them whole-grain oatmeal. That way, you can even allow toddlers to eat dessert first if they want!
Because of their small size and slow growth, toddlers' appetites are small. It's important not to make a fuss if they refuse to eat. They'll eat when they're hungry, and the more you force, the stronger they'll refuse. A toddler's eating is erratic and unpredictable, but viewed over several days, will balance out in terms of average daily needs. So don't worry if on some days she refuses to eat anything, because she will make up for it elsewhere.
Coping with picky, erratic eating can be exasperating, even in light of your intellectual approach to it. To help deal with it, understand your role well and know you have carried it out the best you can.
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Eat
Your job is to offer a wide variety of wholesome foods in a non-pressured, supportive setting, and according to a regular, predictable schedule. Try to: