Picky eating is normal! Most children go through a stage where they refuse to eat certain foods. Children’s taste buds are much more sensitive than adults- their food dislikes may seem strange to us but may be strong for them
- *If your child is growing normally and not lacking in energy, they are most likely getting the nutrients they need for healthy development. You can always check with your GP if you have concerns
- Too much stress at mealtimes doesn’t help anyone out, least of all you!
But Still Encourage Them
- You can still have an impact on how your children think about food
- It’s important to help them form good habits and learn to make good choices, even if it doesn’t always result in them eating what you want right now.
- Children can learn that it is expected of them to behave a certain way at the table and that they are expected to eat certain foods, even if it’s a future goal.
- One day your child is likely to grow out of it, you want them to have the opportunity to make good choices rather than thinking of themselves as a picky eater forever.
- Involve your children in preparing meals, even as simple as helping to wash the produce or set the table.
- Be a good role model! Children will be more likely to try something if they see you eating it and enjoying it.
- Try setting a rule that they have to have a little bit of the food they don’t like on their plate at each meal. Tell them they don’t have to necessarily try it but it has to be on their plate.
- Try using fun names for food, or having your children make edible fruit and vegetable art.
- If your child says that they are hungry but then only wants dessert or sweet things, have the conversation about whether they are really hungry or not.
- Try serving vegetables or the problem foods first, before other foods appear on the table. If it’s not competing with a more familiar food, a child will be more likely to try it.
Reducing Your Stress
- It’s hard not to get upset when you are frustrated and your child just won’t eat their meal, remember getting stressed about mealtimes and picky eating isn’t going to help anyone.
- Plan your meals ahead of time as much as you can, then you will not be strapped for time with shopping and planning.
- Your child is in a stage where they are figuring out limits, and know how to push your buttons, remember to take a deep breath if your frustrated and stay calm- remember that you are the parent!
- Keep in mind that children may be resistant to eating when they’re not hungry. If your child is being really picky at lunch or dinner take a look at how often they are eating throughout the day. Spacing out meals more or serving less for snacks can help prepare a child ready to eat main meals.
Things To Avoid
- Using sweets as a reward for eating a vegetable. While this may work in short term, it ultimately makes your child less likely to develop a liking for vegetables.
- ”Hiding” vegetables in comfort foods, it’s great to incorporate chopped or pureed veggies into pasta, soup, meatloaf etc but it’s important your children know what they’re eating. Otherwise, they are not going to learn to choose vegetables.
- Make the same meal for adults and children! Children will then not get the message that they can always eat whatever they want! Good luck!