During toddlerhood, your child forms their food likes and dislikes. We look at how you can influence their food preferences from an early age, and how you might avoid a broccoli boycott later.
Preferences are natural
Children innately prefer sweet and salty foods over more bitter-tasting ones. These preferences helped our early foraging ancestors seek out food such as sweet fruits and salty shellfish, and avoid bitter tastes that could mean the food was toxic: some poisonous berries, for example.
Nature versus nurture
Toddlers’ food preferences vary widely between individuals, but they can be modified, particularly in early childhood. In fact, environmental influences are the most important factor in setting food preferences by the time your toddler is 22 months old, so now is the time to encourage your toddler to love their vegetables.
A normal phase that some toddlers and children go through between the ages of two and six is neophobia – they are afraid of trying new foods, preferring to stick with familiar ones. Again, this behaviour is thought to go back to our omnivorous hunter-gatherer ancestors who would initially be very wary of picking and eating new foods in case they were harmful.
Often, toddlers refuse a food because of what it looks like, feels like or smells like. Although neophobia is fairly normal, don’t simply ignore ‘fussy’ behaviour around food – you want your child to actively learn to like different foods and get used to eating a varied, balanced diet. You can help them overcome their resistance to these new foods by using repeated sensory exposure: let them see you shopping for and cooking different types of food, smell it as it’s being prepared and getting hands-on with it when it’s meal time. Despite what your mum may have told you, it’s good for toddlers to play with their food – looking, smelling, feeling, hearing and tasting – to familiarise themselves with it.
Advertorial video brought to you by Aptamil Follow On and Growing Up milks.
Model positive experiences
Make mealtimes positive experiences, with plenty of praise when your toddler tries a new food, or one that they’ve previously refused. And try to eat together as a family whenever possible so your toddler can see everyone enjoying a variety of the same foods as them and want to join in.
Maximise exposure to a variety of foods
Another great way to train your toddler’s tastebuds is to make healthy food the norm at home. Keep your cupboards and fridge stocked with yogurt, vegetables, eggs, lean meats,fish, grains, breads and pulses, and a fruit bowl on the table.
A balanced diet for toddlers with Aptamil Growing Up Milk
Aptamil Growing Up milks are tailored to your toddler’s stage of development. Aptamil with Pronutra+ Growing Up milk 1-2 years contains a unique blend of ingredients nutritionally tailored for your toddler, including iron for normal cognitive development as part of a varied, balanced diet. It comes in a range of formats from powder to ready-to-drink Growing Up milk, including a resealable one-litre pack and a handy 200ml carton for when you are out and about.
Aptamil Profutura Growing Up milk is Aptamil’s most advanced Growing Up milk
formulation yet. Inspired by 40 years of breastmilk research, and nutritionally tailored for toddlers from one to two years, it contains specific nutrients to support your toddler, as part of a varied, balanced diet. Aptamil Profutura Growing Up milk contains iodine which contributes to normal growth of children, and iron to support normal cognitive development.
Read more about the range of Aptamil Growing Up milks at Aptaclub.co.uk.
Advertising feature from Aptamil Growing Up milks.