Parents go through a lot of trial and error while introducing and exposing toddlers to a variety of foods. For me and my partner, that’s meant constantly searching for recipes that are both tasty and nutritious, shopping the ingredients, and making the food – only to have my 15-month-old son eat only a few spoons full. The rest? Well, it ends up everywhere but his mouth.
Hugo only entered toddlerhood a few months ago, and our first major toddler challenge presented itself right away. Anyone else who’s been there knows the two words I’m about to say: Fussy. Eating.
The only meal time at home is dinner, and Hugo always eats the same thing every day: A mix of chicken, potato, sweet potato and cheese. Any new foods introduced to him are a struggle – he gives up after two spoons, even if it’s a bowl of tasty shredded veggie nuggets.
My dilemma is not uncommon. Like adults, toddlers' appetites can vary from day to day. If they refuse to try new foods more than half the time, they are considered fussy eaters, according to Better Health Victoria.
For us, the fussy eating stage has come about through a perfect storm of a mild cold with the change of season, tummy troubles from getting used to all the new foods at daycare, and of course, teething. There's no less than six teeth trying to come through at once. All of these factors have added another layer to toddler meal time, and it’s become a bit of a challenge.
I've tried it all without much luck – encouragement, distraction, letting him out of the highchair. But I don't want him to form bad habits or improper associations during meal times – letting toddlers eat while running around can increase the risk of choking. So, it's back to sitting down again. I read that it's important for your child to see you sitting down to eat your food, as a role model to them.
That's great on a normal day, but I feel like toddlers never follow by example during fussy eating phases.
Despite the difficulties, I can tell my son is hungry and genuinely wants to eat. He will willingly open his mouth for food, then shake his head after one spoon. It breaks my heart a little and makes me frustrated that there's little I can do, when he's in pain or just can't get his head around the changes in his little body.
Toddlers need to eat a wide variety of food, from five food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, protein and dairy). As his parent, I need to make sure he receives enough nutrients for his growing body and cognitive development. Not just to get past the teething stage, but for his future health as a growing little man.
I needed a solution - something that would help fill up Hugo that was easy to eat and with minimal aggravation on his gums. My partner reminded me that my son drinks a toddler milk drink at day care every day, so why not give him some at home on the days he's not doing so well at meal times? It was a light bulb moment.
It never occurred to me before to give him toddler milk at home because he was clearly hungry – it's a normal part of his day (so it wasn’t like something brand new he's not use to). Nothing else we've tried has stuck.
I’ve always known of S-26 GOLD Toddler from hearing about it through my mother’s group, and when I heard they had a new nutritional milk drink, I was keen to see if it would help our situation and help fill the nutritional gap for Hugo during his first bout of fussy eating.
So, I gave it a go with Hugo. I poured a sippy cup of S-26 GOLD Toddler's milk drink, an advanced formulation said to have the age-appropriate vitamins and minerals for a toddler whose fussy ways might impact their nutrient intake.
I read about its benefits beforehand, which are categorised under the four pillars of the Alula Toddler PlatinumCare Complex. One serve, about 220mL to be precise, contains nutrients to help support toddler growth and development (featuring vitamins A, D and iodine), cognitive function (iodine and zinc, plus iron for cognitive development), function of digestive enzymes (calcium), and immune system function (zinc, vitamins C, B6, B12 and D, which help their immune systems). This all helps fill gaps in nutrition for when dietary intake may be inadequate - so you can see why I was keen to give it a try.
So how did Fussy McFussypants react? He grabbed the cup and took it, no problems at all. Good start.
And then, he finished it. No fuss. I felt a sense of relief. It helped fill him up and supplement the nutrients he'd usually reject if I served them as food. Suddenly, I felt this sense of relief that this stage will pass, and he'll come out of it happy.
Because it's a supplementary drink, I know it doesn't necessarily replace a meal. So, on the days he's not having his drink at day care, this is a good solution for us during this time.
Of course, all families are different and this may not be a solution for everyone. But I'm so relieved that it's helping me to get my cheeky monkey his basic toddler nutrients requirements during a tough time for us.
But naturally, this is toddlerhood. More challenges await. For now, I'm taking things one step at a time and learning so much as I go along. Number one tip: don't sweat the small stuff. You've got this.
Now, onto the next challenge!
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner S-26 GOLD® TODDLER.
In a perfect world, the perfect toddler would be a perfect eater. In the real world there is S-26 GOLD® TODDLER, a supplementary milk drink, designed to assist your toddler when dietary intakes of energy and nutrients may be inadequate. Our most advanced formulation, S-26 GOLD® TODDLER is built on the 4 key pillars of the Alula® Toddler PlatinumCare Complex™.