Running around after toddlers is exhausting. They are always on the go but also can’t be left for a second. The toddler years can also be associated with a number of challenging behaviours.
Your child can seemingly change overnight during these years – if they slept well before, they may suddenly not now for example. If they enjoyed brushing their teeth before, they may now suddenly not. If they ate everything you gave them before, they may suddenly not. The list goes on.
So how on earth can you keep these little people healthy when they ooze resistance?
The biggest thing I learnt with toddlers is that it is like a constant game of trial and error. What works one week, may not work the next and just because something worked with one toddler, doesn’t mean it will work with another.
You really do have to experiment to find your own way to ensure they eat well, get enough exercise and fresh air, brush their teeth and get some sleep.
Toddlers can become fussy eaters and this can be challenging and really rather distressing. For parents it can be confusing to have a child who previously ate well and now either refuses the food or plays with it. These changes are totally normal and you are not alone.
Hand in the yoghurt instead of the spoon? Totally normal. Throwing food on the floor? Totally normal. Squishing food in their hands? Totally normal. Moving it around the plate but not actually eating it? Totally normal.
Frustrating beyond belief, but all totally normal.
If food is becoming a problem take the wins when you can. The most important thing at this stage is that they eat, not how superior their table manners are. If that means spooning that yogurt into their mouths whist they watch Paw Patrol, so be it. If it means giving them food in situations you wouldn’t normally, so be it. Eating dairylea sandwiches on the sofa won’t scar them for life, but not eating anything can lead to much bigger problems.
Getting toddlers involved in meal preparation can help. Let them feel, taste and smell what you are preparing. You can also try things like cutting their foods into fun shapes, or arranging food in a pattern, or as a face on their plate.
Listen to their body
Parents tend to have an in-built radar when there is something wrong. If you are concerned about your toddlers health, then seek medical advice. If you feel something isn’t quite right, chances are you are right.
If you are travelling with toddlers it pays to be prepared. For example, I have carried steristrips in my purse for years, knowing from experience how many falls toddlers have. If you are going away, make sure you pack the thermometer, children’s paracetamol and any other medications you normally use at home, you can even buy amoxicillin online these days.
Encourage lots of physical activity
I can’t stress this enough. Fresh air and movement are so important for toddlers and can have a hugely positive impact on behaviour. Get outside, let them get messy and run about and give them that freedom that they can’t have indoors.
This can also have a positive impact on sleep. One tip that may help is to go outside to play before you start the bedtime routine as this can help settle them down. Try to worry less about mess and focus on what everyone gains by getting muddy and breathing in some fresh air.
If you have a toddler who plays with their food, the last thing you might feel like doing is getting out the messy play. Actually though, this could be your secret weapon.
Sometimes, when we encourage messy play at other times that can actually help with better eating. If toddlers are allowed that time to explore their senses, then they are less inclined to do that again at meal times.
Messy play you could try includes: playdough, foam play, painting, baking, playing with mud, spaghetti play and playing with water.
Toddlers are complex little characters, but they are also very entertaining and super cute! Enjoy yours!