How should I deal with a picky eater?
Posted by Valerie Sterling on
Is your child a picky eater? Was he born like that or could you have somehow developed your little one to be a picky eater? Or maybe, you are a picky eater as well?
As parents, we worry that our picky eaters are not getting enough nutrition to grow.
It is normal for kids to dislike eating bitter or spicy foods. Some prefer colorful foods and others also prefer the certain texture of foods.
Some foods might register as “gross” to your child because he actually has more taste buds than you do (we lose them as we age), so the flavor of foods is amplified for little ones.
Picky eating is a condition that has no diagnostic tool and is often the norm for toddlers. All toddlers at some point demonstrate some level of pickiness.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM
Don't force your child to eat. Don’t turn mealtime into a battle of wills. It might traumatize them in the long run.
Let your kid eat what he wants if it's healthy or offer an alternative. If he doesn't want a vegetable, offer a fruit instead.
There are foods that we learn to eat if we often see them. If at first, they don't seem to like it, if we encourage them to taste it little by little, they might like it eventually. This is called “acquired taste".
Don't force them to finish what's on their plate. Give him choices and respect their choices. Also, try switching things up until you get what his taste buds would love.
Make your child's food interesting
Try out new ingredients that are enticing to their eyes. Shapes and color play a big factor in a child's interest in food.
It would help if you let your child involve in meal planning. Bring them to the grocery store, ask what they want for lunch or dinner. Handling, smelling, and touching the food helps your child get comfortable with the idea of eating it so let them help out in preparing the food that will be served on the table. It'll be more fun if you play good quality music while prepping.
Meet Them Halfway
Give your child their favorite food at least once a week. If it's nutritious such as fruit or vegetable then you could give it whenever the time of the day permits. If it's their sweet tooth crying out, once a week won't hurt. Or you could also serve a small treat at the end of the meal regardless of how much your child has eaten.
Be a Role Model
Eat healthy foods yourself. Make sure that your own choices are in line with the foods you want your child to eat and enjoy and show it off to them. Your child is looking to you, so let them see you walk your talk.
Set a Schedule
Set a schedule each day for meals and snacks so he’ll know when to expect the next meal. If your child wants a snack at another time, offer items like fruit, vegetables, yogurt, cereal, or a sandwich.
If you have concerns about your child's nutrition, ask your doctor or a nutritionist for more advice on how to handle a picky eater.