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You can’t get your child to eat what you make, you find yourself cooking different meals to satisfy everyone at home, you have tried and tried to get your child to eat vegetables and you just keep getting rejected. Finally you decide that for dinner you made your child’s favorite dish, spaghetti with meatballs. You serve it and your child scrunches their nose and says yuck! UGH! how frustrating.
Does this sound familiar to you? You are not alone, I promise.
The most common concern from meeting with parents is that they have a Picky Eater at Home!
So let’s dive in to these 5 tips to help your child to become less picky.
Children thrive on routine and meal time is not the exception. How you create a meal time routine will determine your child’s feeling’s about food. What I mean about feelings is that your child will either feel interested in trying new foods or feel completely uninterested. A typical routine for your toddler can be:
Breakfast: 7:00 AM
Snack: 9:30 AM
Lunch: 12:00 PM
Snack: 2:30 PM
Dinner: 5:00 PM
Snack: 7:00 PM
This is an example of course and may differ on your child’s way of eating (three meals OR several small meals), and family lifestyle. The point is that a child on a schedule is more open to try new foods and less likely to have a meltdown if hungry or fussy.
2. Consistent Exposure
What I tell parents is, Your job is to offer a variety of foods and Your child’s job is to sit and decide if they will eat or not. If your child does not eat at this meal they will surely eat at the next or the one after. Avoid: Spoon feeding (if they can feed themselves already), cooking a separate dish, offering juice or milk at mealtime (you may offer these at snack time).
3. Be a Role Model
Whatever you eat, your child will eat. If you don’t like vegetables don’t expect your child to happily volunteer them into their mouths. Eating together as a family is a very good way for your child to understand the dynamics of mealtimes.
4. Allow a little play
Your child may take 10-12 times to see a new food before willing to touch it, smell it or eat it. Allow your child some time to touch food, smell it, taste it and return it to their plate. This is their way of becoming familiar with foods and one day they may surprise you by just eating it.
5. Don’t Give up
You will have feelings of despair, frustration, concern for your child’s health but hang in there. Continue to try new foods, cook them in different ways, present them with different foods,
Now as a mother, I know that sometimes you just don’t have the energy to read all those wonderful books on how to deal with your picky eater but if you feel you may have some time. I recommend reading: Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating: A Step-by-Step Guide for Overcoming Selective Eating, Food Aversion, and Feeding Disorders (Affiliate Link). I thought it had great detailed advice on how to deal with picky eating.
Stay tuned as I continue to write about Picky Eaters and how to help.
Until next time
~ Blanca Garcia, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist