My children are so different in many ways, but when they were toddlers and preschoolers, it was even more evident when it came to feeding them. I never thought it would be so challenging at times to simply make them eat. With my son it wasn’t a big issue, since he was a good eater since he was a baby. My daughter was a completely different story. She has very bad reflux since she was a newborn and getting her to gain weight was a constant struggle. Some foods she would simply not touch and I had to insist may times to get her to try a new vegetable or dish when she was a bit older.
Now they are 7 and 10, so it’s much easier. They eat a variety of foods, love fruit and I have taught them to think of food as fuel for their brain and bodies. However, I know how hard it is to live with a picky eater, so here are a few do’s and don’ts if you’re having a hard time getting your child to simply eat.
Picky eater don’ts
- Don’t let mealtime become a battleground. When children are trying to assert their independence, they might use food to show how they want to make their own mind. Don’t allow food to be at the center of the power struggle.
- Don’t force them to eat.
- Don’t mix different types of textures or colors; separate or divide them, instead. Put small portions in small bowls or in a plate that has dividers. Some children can’t tolerate different foods touching each other and this way you avoid one of the sources of conflict.
- Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. To teach our children a healthy relationship with food, always keep in mind that we eat food for nourishment, not to penalize or reinforce behaviors.
- Don’t stop trying. Many studies show you need to keep insisting. A child might need to try a new food over a dozen times until he or she gets used to it. This applies especially to babies and toddlers.
5 Picky eater do’s
- Do discuss your concerns with your pediatrician. Sometimes being picky can actually be a symptom of food allergies or sensitivities.
- Have children see you try different foods. Kids, especially toddlers, really enjoy imitating their parents’ behavior.
- Do monitor your child’s overall food and caloric intake, to ensure he or she is getting an adequate nutrition.
- Do make mealtime fun by decorating the plate with ketchup, using vegetables to make funny faces or having your child pick their dinnerware.
- Do pick your battles. Flexibility is key, within reasonable limits, and avoid making mealtime a battleground.
Good luck! Please share if you have any tips for parents struggling with a picky eater.