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What to do with a toddler who is a picky messy eater!
Picky eaters and messy toddlers!
I've had quite a number of children and I can say that as far as food is concerned this is one topic that is almost as difficult as potty training for me. Well, not quite anymore.
The number one problem and basically the only real problem I think that parents face with picky eating toddlers is that they are also messy. If you are the kind of parent that hates a messy house then you are in trouble. I personally struggled with the first two kids I had because I was brought up in the thought that my house had to be spotless and that is what my parents taught me. My first born ended up being spoon fed for most of the early years because of this but it didn't stop her from refusing certain foods and so that also drove me up the wall every time I had to sit with her and try to convince her why she should eat it or play airplane games with her. So by my third and fourth child I decided, whatever! I started sitting them down in the high chair and let them play with their food from a far but close enough to make sure they didn't choke on anything. It was interesting to see that what toddlers really want is to be able to explore the foods on their own so that they can not only feel safe as to what they are putting in their mouths but also to be independent humans outside of mom and dad. Since they only by far have known is to play by grabbing things off the floor, checking them out and stuffing them in their mouths, not knowing the different between food and toys, they expect that food is for the same purpose. Play! This is where they can become messy and irritating to some parents but this is also when they are given the opportunity to be free to experiment they can learn to accept the foods as well. My current toddler still hates vegetables unless I mash them up and on occasion still spoon feed to her, but I figure that if she doesn't take it the first time around it doesn't mean she won't take it the second or third. Sometimes I have had to take a food away, put it in the fridge and replace it with another food just because my toddler just doesn't feel like eating that particular food. Sometimes it's not even about being picky but some toddlers don't like to always eat the same thing and so we need to also be creative. It's almost as if their brains send out a message to indicate that they've had enough of one type of food so that the parent will make sure all food groups are covered for their healthy eating. I've seen food thrown on the floor, smothered on clothes and face, even hair, the bowl on top of the head and even the bowl thrown on the ground when they are done but I just grab my broom and sweep everything and if the toddler has to be washed and changed then that's our job. In the old days our mothers even had to wash disgusting cloth diapers for a living. So this is not as hard as it seems. Just takes time and dedication and also patience and if asides from a messy chair and floor and all the rest, you find all the vegetables were thrown aside as well then don't fret because eventually they do learn to accept it. Those things toddlers don't like just have to be continuously re-introduced and it's better that the process is done during this time of discovering then later in life when they decide they are right and you are wrong and then you'll struggle more to get them to accept the foods they are meant to eat just like other things older children argue about. Also, I cannot forget to include that when I talk of toddlers I mean by the time they reach two. I tried as early as 1 year old but I found that at that age babies are not quite yet ready to let go of mom and maybe that is why they can seem so difficult once they get into their terrible two's just simply because now they wish to do things on their own and they are beginning to realize they have their own identities. Have fun all the mothers going through this phase and if you can't enjoy it then know it passes quickly too.