Picky eaters are one parenting challenge that all parents seem to encounter at one point or another. Some children lack appetite but for most the problem is not whether or not they want to eat but what they are willing to eat! Feeding a picky eater can be difficult, but eventually every parent finds a way to go around it. Here are 7 tips and tricks to help you on your path to balanced, healthy eating.
#1 The grocer, the better
Involve your child in the preparation of food making. Take them to the supermarket with you and give them their own tasks, such as picking out the best-looking vegetables and fruits. You can show them how you pick different products and teach them to look at the sell-by date, for instance. If they are old enough, this can even be an opportunity to learn about money and how to spend it wisely.
#2 Food can be fun!
Speaking of involving the child in preparation – this is a real chance to show them that food isn’t something you have to do, it’s something you can really enjoy doing! Some foods can be turned into an activity (make-your-own pizza night, or how about tortilla tex-mex night). With other foods, you can have fun coming up with new recipes and enjoy the feeling of creating something delicious together.
#3 Patience is power
Your child might not like the tomato today and might not like it tomorrow – but maybe the third, fifth, tenth taste he or she will come around! Don’t force it too much, but do try again and again with food you think are necessary for a good diet. And be patient with the eating process too: children like to play around with the food. They like to experience it, taste it, smell it. It doesn’t mean they’re stalling – that’s just how they eat!
#4 Routine is key
Another important factor in healthy food education is keeping a routine and helping your child get used to snacking at the same time every day. You don’t have to be super exact – obviously life tends to get in the way! – but try to create a dining routine. Additionally, when it comes to snacks, a good rule of thumb is “out of sight, out of mind”. Have healthy snacks lying around and few if any sugary disasters in the cupboard.
#5 Toddler see, toddler do
When it comes to healthy food, patience is not enough – you have to set a good example. If your child sees you eating a balanced diet full of veggies and fruit, they are much more likely to accept such a diet too. It’s also OK to show them that you like your occasional treats too, just like them! It’s all about knowing how to balance and not overdo it.
#6 Choose thy love, love thy choice
To give your child a stronger sense of control, give them small and objectively unimportant choices to make themselves. For instance they can pick which plate to eat on, or choose a snack from a set list and so on. This will ease on power struggles and let the child feel like they are not just being told what to do all the time, but that their opinion and preferences are important and valuable.
#7 Use a cookie cutter!
To make mealtime more fun and exciting, use a cookie cutter when you’re making a sandwich, a pie, etc – your child will surely enjoy their food even more when it’s star-shaped, animal-shaped or even made into cute little stars! Sure, it’s an excuse to play with the food some more… But you can also look at it as an opportunity to interact with the color, shape and texture of the food and not just eat to get it done with.
How do you manage your little picky eater?
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