It can be very frustrating when your toddler refuses to eat at daycare. Many things can make a toddler refuse to eat at daycare. When you find the root cause of why your toddler will not eat at daycare, you can start working on fixing the problem. He or she may be overwhelmed by things that may be distracting him or her that he or she may not want to eat. If it is their first week or a couple of weeks at the daycare, it is normal for your toddler to refuse to eat. Your child may need to build trust and get to know the staff and other children at the daycare before he or she can eat comfortably around them. Below are some helpful tips to help encourage your child to eat at daycare.
Do not force your baby to eat
If it is your toddler’s first day, week, or a couple of weeks at the daycare, they may need some time to adjust to their environment. In the beginning, there is nothing wrong with packing a lunch for your child. One ideal thing to do is to contact the daycare center and see what they are having for the week. By preparing the same lunch as the daycare does, will get your child use to eating what the other children are eating. This can gradually help your toddler become comfortable with eating food at and from the daycare.
Take some time to visit the daycare during lunchtime
Speak with your toddler’s daycare instructor or the administrator on duty and see if you can arrange to have lunch with your toddler and the rest of his or her class. Letting your child see how comfortable you are eating around their peers and other daycare staff, can encourage your child to do the same.
Trust your toddler to develop his or her eating self-regulation
Giving your toddler some space to choose what they eat ensures we will encourage children to select from the food provided. They should be able to make their own choice on how much they consume as much or as little as they choose. It is also okay to allow your toddler to refuse the foods they do not want to consume.
Speak with your daycare provider about snacks
Most daycare centers offer two snacks in between meals. If you feed your toddler a well-balanced meal for breakfast, it could be that the extra snack before lunch could reduce your toddler’s appetite causing them to refuse lunch. If your child attends daycare after school, maybe the snack before dinner could be reducing your toddler’s appetite. Whatever the case may be, you want to either feed your child a light breakfast, have your child eat breakfast at the daycare, or have the daycare hold snacks before meals. This will ensure that your child will be hungry enough to eat lunch or dinner.
Match feeding times at home with feeding times at the daycare
You want to keep your toddler’s feeding schedule the same regardless of where they are going to be eating. Having the same schedule at home as the daycare does, will not interfere with your child’s appetite and will encourage stay on this eating schedule even at daycare.
Speak to your daycare provider about alternative substitutions
Do not worry or force your toddler to eat a particular food they do not like. This is a great way to get your toddler involved in their affairs, and it lets them know that both you and the daycare staff care about their interaction and concerns. Have your child express what foods he or she does not like. Make a list of foods and communicate this with the daycare kitchen staff. It is a good idea to get a weekly menu of what the daycare will be serving. You can either ask them to offer a substitute for any foods your toddler will not eat or send some foods to replace what they do not eat for the week.
Make sure your child eats a well-balanced meal before sending them to daycare
You do not want to force-feed or allow anyone else to force-feed your child when they refuse to eat. Children can become stressed or upset about having to go to the daycare, having to deal with certain peers, or having to deal with keeping up with the rest of the class. Many factors can cause a toddler to lose their appetite, just as it does with adults. If your child is having a bad or emotional day, they can react to refusing meals. If your child is experiencing difficulties at the daycare, send a light snack, or comfort foods that can encourage them to cheer up. Take time to check on your child, and if available stop by and let them know everything is okay. It could be that they need a little extra assurance.
Call the daycare before mealtime and speak with your child
If you know your toddler is having trouble at the daycare during meal times, take time out to call them and encourage them to eat just before meals. Going over the menu with them and reminding them of how much they like a specific item on the menu can help them look forward to mealtime and encourage them to eat more, even if it’s just the things they like to eat.
Do not stress yourself or your toddler out about not eating
Always keep in mind that if your toddler is hungry enough they will not refuse meals or snacks. Maybe they feel uncomfortable eating around strangers in a strange setting. You can rest assured that once your toddler makes friends and gets to know everyone better, he or she will not have a problem eating when they are hungry.
Make sure your toddler is physically and emotionally feeling well
Sometimes not eating is a sign of physical discomfort, depression, or anxiety. Maybe your child is feeling some anxiousness having to adapt to new people, places, activities, and foods. They could be feeling down because they do not want to be away from their family or friends at home. Or it could be fearful butterflies in their stomachs having to talk and do things with people they have never seen before. Finding out the root of the lack of appetite can help you develop a plan to ensure your toddler that he or she is safe and can feel comfortable eating at daycare.