Helpful Tips to Deal with Picky Eaters
We know that children can be picky eaters, but as a parent/guardian, we need to make sure that we are not making too big of a deal of the situation.
You need to respect your child’s appetite or lack of one. Do not force your child to eat if they are not hungry, or bribe them to eat certain foods, as this may cause a power struggle over food. Forcing your child to eat when they are not hungry or do not feel like eating may cause your child to associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration. A healthy, balanced diet is imperative to a child’s physical and cognitive growth, so you must take necessary precautions to ensure that mealtime is a pleasant experience for them.
Here are some tips parents & guardians can use to help promote their child’s appetite and quest to try new & healthy foods:
- Give your child smaller portions to avoid making them feel overwhelmed. Smaller portions present the opportunity for your child to ask for more food.
- Stick to a routine, try and serve snacks and meals about the same time every day. Your child’s body will respond to routines & habits and may promote a daily appetite.
- Offer water between meals and snacks.
- Be patient with new foods. The first time they are offered it they may not eat it but might give it a try after repeated exposure.
- Serve new food along with a child’s favourite.
- Talk about the colour, shape, texture and aroma of the food. It is important to get your child interested in the food they’re eating; it can calm their nerves about trying new foods and allows them to be open to trying different things.
- Don’t be a short order cook-don’t make something different for your child if they reject what you make as this may encourage picky eating.
- Encourage your child to stay at the table for designated meal times even if they are choosing not to eat. Establishing table manners is also essential in developing a respectful & mature child.
- Avoid distractions like TV, computers, phones, etc. Your child should be focused on his or her food, and any distractions could nullify their real hunger.
- Make meals fun! Serve veggies with dip, cut the food in different shapes using a cookie cutter, serve breakfast for dinner.
- Recruit their help in asking for their input on what to have for a meal, helping to pick out healthy choices when grocery shopping, to wash the veggies, help mix the ingredients, set the table etc.
- Be creative – add shredded veggies to spaghetti sauce, soup etc.
- Set a good example if you eat a variety of healthy foods your child is likely to follow suit.
- Give them a simple rule that they must try two bites of something new. Assure them that afterwards, they do not have to continue eating it if they do not wish to.
- Remember that your child ’s eating habits won’t likely change overnight, but small steps you take each day can help permute a lifetime of healthy eating.